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 CBN Approves Second Tranche Of FX Sale To BDCs, Reduces Allocation To $10,000

The CBN is facing calls for transparency as NACCIMA raises concerns over FX allocations.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Monday, approved a second tranche of sale of foreign exchange (FX) to eligible Bureau De Change (BDC) operators to meet their demand for invisible transactions.

The central bank disclosed that the sum of $10,000 would be sold to each BDC at the rate of N1, 251/S, which was a N50 reduction compared to N1, 301/S allocation in the initial tranche.

The latest intervention also indicated that the apex bank halved the $20,000 it allocated to each BDC in February.

CBN conveyed the latest allocation in a letter addressed to President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), dated March 25, 2024, and signed by CBN Director, Trade and Exchange Department, Dr. Hassan Mahmud.

The bank further instructed the BDC operators to sell FX to eligible end-users at a spread of not more than 1.5 percent above the purchase price, compared to one percent previously.

The central bank also warned that any BDC that breached the terms of sale to end-users would be sanctioned appropriately, including outright suspension from further participation in the sale.

Only last month, the apex bank announced that it had approved the sale of FX to eligible BDC operators to meet their demand for invisible transactions. The bank sold $20,000 to each BDC at the rate of N1, 301/S, which represented the lower band rate of executed spot transactions at the Nigeria Autonomous Foreign Market (NAFEM) for the previous trading day, as of February 27, 2024.

The central bank explained that the intervention became necessary following the continued price distortions at the retail end of the market, which was feeding into the parallel market and further widening the exchange rate premium.

The move also complemented ongoing reforms in the foreign exchange market, aimed at achieving an appropriate market-determined exchange rate for the naira.

CBN emphasised that the BDCs were allowed to sell to end-users at a margin not more than one percent above the purchase rate from the central bank.

The naira extended its gains, on Monday, on the official NAFEM window, it appreciated by N23.45 to close at N1, 408.04/$1, compared to N1, 431.49 on Friday.

On the other hand, on the parallel market, the naira closed at N1, 400/$1, from N1, 440/$1 it exchanged over the weekend.

Daily foreign exchange turnover on the official window also increased by 11.06 percent to $221.80 million, from $199.7 million on Friday.

The highest spot rate on Monday was pegged at N1, 422 while the lowest spot rate recorded was N1, 300.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) commended the announcement of the clearance of a $7 billion foreign exchange backlog by the CBN. But it reiterated the need to take drastic steps to address the unmet forex requests by some members of private sector operators.

In a statement, National President of NACCIMA, Dele Oye, hailed President Bola Tinubu and the CBN governor, Olayemi Cardoso, for the move. Oye disclosed that several NACCIMA member companies and other private sector operators had challenged the completeness of the forex clearance.

Oye stated that many NACCIMA members had reported that despite the CBN’s commitment to providing foreign exchange, their funds in naira had been retained for extended periods, some for over a year. He regretted that this had occurred without adequate communication from their respective banks or the CBN, leaving their business operations in a state of uncertainty.

He recalled that in February, NACCIMA, as part of the organised private sector in Nigeria, had sought the intervention of the Minister of Finance to address the issues, emphasising the need for transparency and expedited resolution.

The NACCIMA boss called for a more comprehensive and transparent approach to resolving the remaining foreign exchange allocations.

The statement added, “As part of the Hon. Minister of Industry Trade and Investment preparation for the National Assembly Summons, a stakeholder meeting comprising NACCIMA, MAN, affected banks and customers was convened by the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment at the Bank of Industry in Lagos on the 21st of March, 2024.

“At the meeting, it was gathered that there has been a lack of formal communication from the CBN regarding the rejection of foreign exchange bids. Furthermore, it was revealed that Deloitte, the consulting firm engaged by the CBN for verification purposes, had not directly engaged with the affected banks or their customers for clarification on any contentious transactions.

“The consensus from the meeting was that direct engagement with the CBN is essential. The Honourable Minister urged all parties to pursue dialogue and cautioned against actions, like litigation, that could hinder such discussions.”

Oye stated, “In light of these developments, NACCIMA appeals to the CBN to collaborate closely with the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, as well as the banking sector and their clientele to resolve all outstanding issues pertaining to legitimate letters of credit for which naira has already been collected (for a considerable time) with a promise of fulfilment.

“It is important to underscore that the continuity of government obligations transcends the tenure of individual officeholders; hence, legitimate transactions initiated under previous administrations must be honoured with the same level of commitment.”

James Emejo and Nume Ekeghe

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