Job loss looms as BDCs set to sack 21,000 over FX rules

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Despite the succour granted the Bureau De Change Operators last week by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that they can now source forex from oil companies and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the 2,786 operators in the country may still sack not less than 21,000 of their workers nationwide.

The ugly development is sequel to CBN stoppage of direct sale of foreign currencies (forex) from official source to the BDC operators.

Before the parley between the CBN and the BDC association took place last week, The Guardian had gathered that the operators were already perfecting plans to send some of their workers home as a result of poor business allegedly occasioned by the CBN’s new rules which have led to paucity of foreign currency to carry on in business by the BDCs.

According to some of the operators interviewed in Lagos, each of the 2,786 operators has not less than 10 employees on their respective payrolls. The employees comprise those involved in the movement of cash from one client to the other, clerical officers and others who do the cleaning and help in one office duty or the other.

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of TR Wonton Nigeria Limited, an operator based in Broad Street, Lagos, Alhaji Awwal Tukur, said the CBN’s directives had prevented them from getting official supplies of foreign currencies, and now they have to get their stock from, among others, individuals from abroad and exporters of locally produced goods who are paid in foreign currency. According to him, supplies of the volume of foreign exchange from such sources cannot be compared to the one from the CBN.

Another operator, who claimed to be an official of Cash Express Bureau De Change, Lagos Island, but pleaded that his comment was personal and should not be taken as official statement from his company, said that besides the workers that would be laid off, the local and state governments would also lose revenue from the taxes and levies that the operators have been paying to them. According to him, survival is hanging on the mercy of individuals who come into the country from abroad, majority of whom do their transactions at the ports and borders.

The Acting President of the BDC association, Aminu Gwadabe, who confirmed to The Guardian that about 21,000 employees would be thrown out of job, said they (BDC association) held a meeting with the CBN Governor Emefiele, last weekend, on the issue.

He said it was resolved that instead of allowing the BDC operators to crash out of business because of the CBN’s new policy on forex, the BDC operators can be allowed to source their forex needs from oil companies and NNPC, though the arrangement would not provide enough forex to sustain them in business as before. According to Gwadabe, the succor will not stop them from retrenching workers, it would only reduce the number of people that would have been affected.

“We know the CBN did not just wake up to take the drastic measure it took on forex. It was due to the hard time that the apex bank is facing and all of us too are facing the same challenge of acute shortage of the dollar. We are all Nigerians; we know the foreign reserve is down. Dollar is something you have to earn.

To us, we believe that the current arrangement of sourcing forex to transact our business from the oil companies and NNPC is just to keep us in business so that we do not close down completely. It is not going to be easy for all of us. It is just an arrangement put in place to enable amble on in business pending when the situation in the forex reserve improves.”Guardian