By Lydia Ngwakwe
Lagos, Sept. 2, 2020 The Association of Bureau de Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) has warned its members not to sell foreign exchange to unauthorised buyers to avoid sanctions on the body as they resume sales.
The association’s President, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, gave the warning on Wednesday, during a webinar with the topic: “Resumption of Foreign Currency Sales to BDCs, COVID-19, Challenges, Compliance and Way Forward “.
Recall that the CBN had announced that gradual sales of foreign exchange to licensed BDC operators would commence with effect from Sept. 7.
The bank said the step was part of efforts to enhance accessibility to foreign exchange, particularly to travellers, following the announcement of the limited resumption of international flights by Minister of Aviation.
“Consequently, purchase of foreign exchange by BDCs shall be on Mondays and Wednesdays in the first instance.
“The BDCs are to ensure that their accounts with the banks are duly funded with the equivalent naira proceeds on Fridays and Tuesdays accordingly,” the apex bank had said.
Speaking at the webinar on Wednesday, Gwadabe urged his members to avoid infractions, as the apex bank had means of tracking their dealings.
He also called on them to always render returns to CBN.
”You cannot sell dollars to someone that is importing goods in whatever form as a BDC, you are only authorized to sell to a traveller, sell for payment of school fees, medicals and mortgage.
“Anything outside this is serious Infraction and can be meted with penalties,” he said.
Gwadabe advised members not to indulge in bulk payments saying that the regulator now had robust and innovative technologies to monitor, supervise and track their financial dealings.
He called on CBN to review their margin of two naira as it was not covering their cost of operations.
According to him, other clients charge as high as 10 per cent margin.
He said once the margin is reviewed, the association would perform well.
The ABCON President disclosed that Naira gained value by mere pronouncement that BDCs operation would be commencing.
He described the gain as “magical”, assuring that they would keep and leverage the achievement.
Gwadabe also spoke on some procedures that had been put in place concerning the resumption.
“I want to discuss the procedures in the new resumption, they are not new, but due to Covid-19, and as an institution, we must observe some certain measures that are being laid down by the government.
“Ordinary financial transactions or funding transactions for disbursement will start this Friday, Sept. 4, in four zones.
“We have Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Awka Zones; these are our four service providers; and in Port Harcourt, the Travelex Retail Nigeria are back, they are the ones to disburse foreign currency to our members in the zone.
“So, we are happy to announce to CBN that our waiting areas are ready and we are engaging the payment service providers in all the five payment services areas to ensure we have smooth operation,” he said.
Gwadabe said as part of readiness to resume operations, the association had introduced a queuing management systems called” 360 QMS” to allow members work virtually from the comfort of their homes.
According to him, about 4,000 members have already registered on the platform.
He said other Covid-19 preventive measures like wash-hand basins, Hand Sanitizers and Face masks had also been provided before the commencement of their operations on Monday.
Gwadebe said the association was faced with the challenge of smaller margin, saying they still see a gap between advance exchange rate and what was currently obtained in the market.
He called on CBN to allow BDCs carry out online documentation to avoid physical contact with persons due to the pandemic.