Nigeria’s current account balance continues to be a source of concern as data published by the Central Bank shows that Nigeria spent a whopping $9.01 billion (N3.24 trillion) on personal foreign travels (also known as Personal Travel Allowances, PTA) in 9 months (January – September 2019).
According to the CBN report, PTA on foreign trips by Nigerians rose from $5.59 billion between January and September 2018, to $9.01 billion in the same period of 2019. This means PTA rose by a high 61.08% in one year.
Also, the CBN report shows that Nigeria’s current account balance continues to balloon into deficits no thanks to the services sector huge foreign exchange demand driven by travel and business services. See: Nigeria’s current account deficit rises again
Educational travel expense tops the chart
In the period under review, data showed that PTA on foreign travels by Nigerians is mainly on education, health, and other personal travel expenses.
Unsurprisingly, education tops the chart as Nigeria spent a whopping $4.55 billion on education travel expenses between January and September 2019. This means Nigerians continue to rely heavily on foreign education and medical tourism despite efforts by the government to curb imports.
Medical tourism gulped a total sum of $1.92 billion within the period.
Personal travel expenses, which are largely vacation-related expenses gulped $2.53 billion.
Overall Education gulped 50.5% of total expenses on personal travels, other personal travels (28%) and Medical tourism (21.3%).
PTA gulps $58.7 billion in 10 years
A further check in to CBN published data showed some very worrying trends, as foreign travel expenses continue to drive Nigeria’s current account balance into negative. For instance, in the last 10 years (2010– 2019), Nigeria spent an astonishing $58.7 billion on PTA.
As Nigerians permanently leave the country to enjoy better infrastructures and basic amenities that could have been provided in the country, they sometimes sell nearly all their property and belongings and then converting the proceeds into forex before traveling. This continues to pile pressure on the country’s depleting forex reserves dragging the economy down.