The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has formally announced that it would no longer sell dollars to Bureau de Change (BDC) operators.
Since over 70 percent drop in the price of crude oil, which contributes the largest share of national Foreign Exchange Reserves, the country foreign earnings has dropped from US$3.2 billion to US $1 billion, which made it hard to meet the increasing demands for foreign exchange by domestic importers.
According to the apex bank, in 2005 when oil prices was US$50 a barrel, average import bill was N148.3 billion per month but in 2015 average import bill for the first nine months of 2015 alone was N917.6 billion per month, even at lower oil prices of US$32.60 as at today.
This has depleted foreign exchange reserves which stood at about US$37.3 billion as of June 2014, but currently around US$28.0 billion.
In order to avoid further depletion in the reserves, the central bank of Nigeria has decided to provide forex services for payments of school fees, BTA, PTA, and related expenses. Importation of petroleum products and matured letters of credit from commercial banks will be honoured.
Despite difficulties the bank is facing, some Bureau de Change (BDC) operators across the country are said to have become wholesale dealers in foreign exchange, selling to the tune of millions of dollars per transaction instead of the original directive to only serve retail-end users who need US$5,000 or less.
Thereafter, using fake documentations like BVNs, boarding passes, flight tickets and passport to render weekly returns to the CBN. These operators sell to ordinary Nigerians as high as N282 per dollar while CBN sells dollar at 197.
In spite of the financial burden being placed on the bank’s limited foreign exchange, the bank has decided to stop selling foreign exchange to bureau de changes operators. However, they can source for their foreign exchange from autonomous sources but should conform to the anti-money laundering laws.
People with ordinary domiciliary accounts can now deposit foreign currency cash into their accounts with effect from today, the report showed.