- Dollar Scarcity: Demand Overwhelms Travelex
Dollar scarcity has been linked to the inability of Travelex, the sole dollar distributor appointed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to meet increasing demand from bureaux de change (BDCs).
The three-week-old pilot scheme which allows Travelex to solely sell dollars to BDCs seems to be faltering, it was learnt yesterday.
Travelex, a global forex dealer, was last month appointed the sole dollar distributor by the CBN but the firm does not have the spread to cover over 3,000 BDCs across the six geopolitical zones.
A source said Travelex, which sold dollars to a little above 1,000 out of 3,000 BDCs nationwide, was only focusing on the Lagos market, while demands from other regions were not met. The figure was also far less than the 1,600 BDCs within the Lagos market.
BDCs in Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt, Benin, Maiduguri, Onitsha and other major cities are yet to get dollars since Travelex started the distribution role, the source said.
Travelex Nigeria General Manager, Anthony Enwereji said the project was a pilot scheme with the policy direction still under study. He, however, said that since Travelex was appointed to sell dollars to BDCs, the naira exchange rate against the dollar has improved.
The CBN last month stopped banks from accessing Diaspora remittances estimated at $21 billion annually, after it was discovered that the lenders were not playing by the rules.
A source said despite the pressure from the BDCs for the CBN to approve more independent dollar distributors, nothing is being done about it. “We need more dollar distributors that would serve BDCs outside the Lagos market,” the source said.
Travelex is the world’s largest foreign exchange bureau. It has in recent months been opening retail shops across major locations in Nigeria, such as airports and highbrow areas to enable it meet the rising forex demand, and fill the vacuum created by the apex bank’s stoppage of the Deposit Money Banks from selling dollars to BDCs.
CBN Raises Customs Forex from N381/US$1 to N404.97/US$
The Central Bank of Nigeria has raised the Naira exchange rate for cargo clearance from N381/US$1 to N404.97/US$1.
This was confirmed by Uche Ejesieme, the Public Relations Officer (PRO), Tin Can Island Customs Command.
The PRO explained that it was not the customs job description to raise the foreign exchange rate but that of the central bank.
The N24 difference has been implemented on the customs system managed by Web Fontaine.
Commenting on the situation, Kayode Farinto, the Vice President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, said the increase would further escalate inflation on import goods and hurt consumers’ buying power given the present economic situation.
An importer, Gboyega Adebari, who was shocked at the decision said stakeholders will be greatly affected by the decision.
According to him, “When we went to assess a job this morning, we were told that the exchange rate has been increased, though we have been expecting it, but we don’t expect that it would be so sudden. The implication of this on cargo clearance is that cost of clearance would increase by N24 difference.
“The cargoes that already enroute Nigeria would also be affected, the jobs that we want to clear this morning were affected.
“When you go back to the importer and request for money, they will tell you there is no notification of increase from customs, so the freight forwarders are the ones that would bear the additional cost.”
Naira plunged to N502 against the United States Dollar at the parallel market on Wednesday and traded at N715 to a British Pound and N605 against the European common currency, Euro.
Naira Hits N502 Against U.S Dollar at the Black Market
Persistent dollar scarcity amid devaluation and economic uncertainties plunged the Nigerian Naira to N502 per U.S Dollar at the parallel market, popularly known as the black market.
The local currency traded at N715 to a British Pound and N605 to a Euro on Wednesday morning.
At the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Rate Fixing Methodology (NAFEX), the Naira opened at N411.15 to a United States Dollar before dropping to as low as N421.96 and eventually closing at N411.5.
The Central Bank of Nigeria had adopted the NAFEX rate as the nation’s official rate when it became clear that the apex can no long sustain Naira’s fixed-rate amid dwindling foreign reserves and weak revenue generation.
The NAFEX rate, popularly known as the Investors and Exporters Forex Window, was quoted as N410.15 to a United States Dollar on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 on the central bank’s official website.
The apex bank decision to devalue the Naira despite the ongoing economic challenges in Africa’s largest economy was because of the pressure from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, demanding the federal government to allow forces of demand and supply to determine the naira exchange rate against pegged Naira-USD rate.
However, with the Federal Government looking for approval from the two multilateral institutions for fresh loans, it became necessary to enforce those demands before new loan applications could be approved.
The World Bank raised Nigeria’s growth rate from 1.1 percent to 1.8 percent in 2021, saying a series of structural reforms and market-determined exchange rates will help boost economic activities.
Also, oil prices were projected to remain high in the near term.
South African Reserve Bank Imposes Administrative Sanctions on Authorised Dealer in Foreign Exchange with Limited Authority
The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has imposed administrative sanctions on Master Currency (Pty) Limited, an Authorised Dealer in foreign exchange with limited authority (ADLA).
Authorised Dealers in foreign exchange (commercial banks) and ADLAs are persons authorised by the SARB to deal in foreign exchange transactions and are regulated accordingly. ADLAs include bureaux de change and are authorised to deal only in certain limited, designated foreign exchange transactions, including travel-related transactions.
The Financial Intelligence Centre Act 38 of 2001 (FIC Act) mandates the SARB to ensure that ADLAs have adequate controls in place to combat acts of money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Flowing from these responsibilities, the SARB inspects ADLAs to assess whether they have appropriate measures in place,as required by the FIC Act.
The administrative sanctions were imposed after the SARB conducted inspections at Master Currency (Pty) Limited, in terms of the FIC Act. The inspections found weaknesses in the control measures the ADLA, Master Currency (Pty) Limited, had in place to control anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism.
It should be noted that the administrative sanctions were imposed because of certain weaknesses that were detected in the ADLA’s control measures which inhibited the ADLA from proactively detecting financial crime, and not because it was found to have facilitated transactions involving money laundering or the financing of terrorism.
The administrative sanctions imposed are as follows:
- a financial penalty of R100 000 in terms of section 45C(3)(e) of the FIC Act, for failing to provide ongoing training to employees to comply with the provisions of such Act in terms of section 43 thereof; and
- a directive in terms of section 45C(3)(c) of the FIC Act, to provide the requisite refresher training at all branches, and to submit confirmation and evidence that such training has been conducted and will continue to be conducted on an annual basis.
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