The Central Bank of Nigeria has announced a ban on the sale of forex to Bureaux De Change operators.
The apex bank says it has now permitted banks to receive deposits in foreign currencies.
This comes few days after the bank disclosed that it will be supporting Dangote Refineries and other Nigerians it believed to be creating value locally
“The Bank would henceforth discontinue its sales of foreign exchange to BDCs. Operators in this segment of the market would now need to source their foreign exchange from autonomous source.
“They must however note that the CBN would deploy more resources to monitoring these sources to ensure that no operator is in violation of our anti-money laundering laws.
“The Bank would now permit commercial banks in the country begin accepting cash deposits of foreign exchange from their customers.”
According to the CBN, the drop in oil prices was depleting its dollar reserves which it said had dropped from $37.3 billion in June 2014 to $28 billion “as of today”.
The CBN further explained that Nigeria’s import bill was now N917.6 billion a month compared to N148.3 billion a month back in 2005 (when oil sold for $50).
In taking these decisions, the apex bank complained of the activities of the BDC operators whom it claimed have gone from retail dealers of forex to wholesale dealers.
It complained that instead of catering for retail users who needed about $5,000 they now transact in millions of dollars suggesting that the BDC source money from unscrupulous places.
The CBN also noted that the BDC’s buy dollars from the CBN at N197 only to sell to their customers at N250. According to the CBN it’s no wonder that BDC have risen “from a mere 74 in 2005 to 2,786 BDCs today. In addition, the CBN receives close to 150 new applications for BDC licenses every month.”
It is left to be seen, how this new policy will affect the critical sector with direct impact on the day to day living of citizens.