13th January, 2016
An economic expert, Prof. Uche Uwaleke, on Wednesday commended the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) plan to stop the sale of dollars to Bureau de Change (BDC) operators in the country.
Uwaleke, the Head of Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the decision would help improve the country’s foreign reserve.
According to him, Nigeria is the only country that sells dollars to BDC’s and such practice should have been stopped long before now.
He said the continued sale of dollars to the operators had resulted in a drastic depletion of the country’s foreign reserve and the stoppage would improve the reserve.
“I think it is a good measure because if the CBN had not done that, our reserves will finish in no time; the decision is necessary to enable CBN to meet the demand for foreign exchange.
“A lot of matured letters of credit are yet to be honoured, including those of some airlines who are yet to get dollars from the CBN.
“We have so many BDC operators in Nigeria and allocating 10,000 dollars to them resulted in the drastic decline in our foreign reserve.
“I think it was a good decision the CBN has taken even though it is going to have its own consequences.
“Part of which is that it is going to put pressure on the parallel market and we are already witnessing it as the rate of dollar to naira is about N300,’’ he said.
On lifting of the ban on forex deposit, Uwaleke said that the move was necessary, adding that he supported the decision by the apex bank.
“The CBN has a responsibility to the economy to check money laundering.
“At a time, there were serious suspicions that a lot of people were laundering money; so part of what the CBN did was to stop the lodgement of dollars into domiciliary accounts.
“A lot of complaints trailed the ban as people brought in dollars but could not deposit them in their domiciliary accounts.
“However, the CBN is now relaxing this policy to accommodate genuine forex needs; people can now pay in dollars into their domiciliary accounts,’’ Uwaleke said.
The professor urged the CBN to evolve measures to minimise money laundering, if not totally eliminated, in the country.
“The CBN has to put measures in place to ensure that money laundering is curtailed, if not eliminated; the source of all monies coming into the country must be established,’’ he said.
NAN recalls that on Jan. 11, the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, announced the lifting of the ban on acceptance of forex cash deposits from customers by commercial banks.
The CBN governor explained that the BDC operators would now need to source their foreign exchange from autonomous sources.