By Seun Ibiyemi
The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), an umbrella body for over 5,3000 Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-licenced Bureaux De Change (BDCs) has advised the apex bank to de-risk BDCs operations to allow operators access foreign exchange (forex) from autonomous market in 2022 and beyond.
In a statement released at the weekend, ABCON President, Alhaji (Dr) Aminu Gwadabe said the BDC sector is becoming comatose since the July 2021 Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting where CBN suspended weekly dollar interventions to BDCs.
He said that while BDCs are licensed to offer retail forex sales, across the counter forex transactions, they equally contribute to Nigeria’s economic development.
The BDCs, he added are ensuring order and confidence in the forex market, providing data for monetary policy, channels for CBN Intervention in Retail forex market and creation of over 15,000 jobs, among others.
According to Gwadabe, over N1trillion annual transaction volume by the BDCs sector is under threat while huge capital investment in the sector is becoming redundant, gradually being eroded and winding up.
He therefore advised that just like the apex bank de-risked the agricultural sector, making it easier for agriculturalists to access cheaper loans at single digit from banks, the CBN can also de-risk the BDCs operations to be able to receive diaspora remittances through the International Money Supply Operators (IMTOs) and deepen foreign capital flows to the economy.
Gwadabe said the ABCON understands the challenges faced by the apex bank due to the dwindling foreign reserves, declining oil output and oil theft, COVID-19 induced economic pains, fiscal policy challenges, debt burden and election spending, which are making it difficult for the CBN to sustain weekly dollar interventions to BDCs.
He suggested that the BDCs should be to allowed to access dollars or diaspora remittances through the autonomous forex windows like allowing operators to receive IMTOs proceeds, carrying out online dollar operations and Point of Sale (PoS) Agency, among others.
He said that ABCON has developed multiple applications for BDCs’ transformation from being CBN cash dispensers to globally competitive entities with capacity to attract foreign capital flows to the economy.
“We support any measures that would lead to compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), supporting CBN’s exchange rate stability policies and security agencies to punish any BDC operator breaching corporate governance and compliance guidelines. It is our sincere belief that the BDCs need to be integrated back officially to ensure their continuous potent role in exchange rate stability management,” Gwadabe said.
He disclosed that ABCON is now training Compliance Officers to ensure they are acquainted with what is required of them, especially on monthly rendition of results and tracking illicit capital flows.
Gwadabe said that ABCON has over the years established itself as a key player in the BDC industry, and has also made several commitments and sacrifices to ensure that the sector continues to thrive despite all odds.
“The recognition of the role of BDCs in Nigeria financial sector remains the first step to building a sustainable and viable forex market that is comparable to what is obtainable in other developed economies. But getting the Nigerian BDC sector to where it is desired to be demands hard-work, quality leadership, regulatory foresight and sound government policies,” he said.
Nigeria’s pension fund administrators channel N130.18bn into infrastructure
In a recent report released by the National Pension Commission, Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) have demonstrated a strong commitment to national development by investing a substantial N130.18 billion of the funds from the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) into infrastructure projects by the end of September 2023.
The unaudited report, which details the pension funds industry portfolio for the period ending on September 30, 2023, indicates a strategic allocation of pension assets to bolster the country’s infrastructure.
This move is part of a broader investment strategy that has seen the total assets under the CPS surge to an impressive N17.35 trillion. The PFAs are not only focusing on infrastructure but are also diversifying their investments across various asset classes.
These include domestic and foreign ordinary shares, an array of government securities from both federal and state levels, and a selection of money market instruments, among others.
The investment in infrastructure, however, is a notable highlight, reflecting the PFAs’ role in fostering sustainable economic growth and development.
The commitment of the PFAs to channel pension funds into productive sectors of the economy is a strategic approach that promises to yield long-term benefits for the nation, including the potential for improved public services and job creation.
This investment also aligns with the government’s objectives to enhance the country’s infrastructure and stimulate economic progress.
The National Pension Commission’s report, which also encompasses Approved Existing Schemes, Closed Pension Fund Administrators, and RSA Funds, including unremitted contributions at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) & legacy funds, provides a transparent view of the pension industry’s performance and its pivotal role in the national economy.
The commission had in its amended investment regulation highlighted the requirements for investing the funds in line with the provisions of the Pension Reform Act, 2014.
It said the purpose of the regulation was to provide uniform rules and standards for the investment of pension fund assets.
According to the regulation, pension fund custodians must only take written instructions from licensed PFAs concerning the PFAs’ investment and management of pension fund assets held in the custody of the PFCs on behalf of the contributors.
It said the PFCs, in discharging their contractual functions to PFAs, must not contract out the custody of pension fund assets to third parties except for allowable investments made outside Nigeria.
“The PFC shall obtain prior approval from the commission before engaging a global custodian for such allowable foreign investments,” it said.
According to the regulation, the PFAs, in discharging their contractual functions to contributors, must not contract out the investment/management of pension fund assets to third parties except for open/close-end/hybrid funds and specialist investment funds allowed by the regulation.
CITM supports bill to enhance accountability, reduce errors in financial transactions
The Chartered Institute of Treasury Management (CITM) has praised a proposed bill on Public Finance Management (PFM) reforms, stating that it would enhance accountability and reduce manual errors in financial transactions.
The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) has put forward the bill to provide legal support for PFM and the operations of the Federation’s Treasury.
In a statement released on Monday, the Registrar of CITM, Mr. Olumide Adedoyin commended the integration of cutting-edge financial technologies in the proposed reform. He highlighted that CITM has always been a strong advocate for such reforms and believes that the timing of the OAGF’s move is appropriate.
The CITM’s endorsement of the bill underscores the importance of modernising financial systems and embracing technology to improve efficiency and transparency. If passed, the bill could significantly enhance financial management practices in Nigeria and contribute to the country’s overall economic development.
The registrar said the vision outlined key elements crucial for an effective PFM.
Adedoyin said that CITM can set the benchmark for competence in treasury management roles, ensuring a cadre of highly skilled professionals.
He said that the bill, when enacted into law, would help in the identification, assessment and mitigation of financial risks.
According to him, by adopting international best practices, Nigeria can position itself as a beacon of financial resilience.
“At the heart of the reform lies a commitment to transparent financial reporting and stringent accountability measures.
“By implementing regular audits and disclosures, the government aims to build public trust and safeguard against fraud and mismanagement,” he said.
He said the institute was poised to contribute significantly through a collaborative approach, emphasising technology, risk management and professional development.
The registrar said this would come through collaboration with regulatory bodies and transparency measures, adding that CITM would help shape the legal framework for Treasury reform.
Naira depreciates to N1,164/$ on black market
By Sodiq Adelakun
The Nigerian naira faced further pressure on the foreign exchange (FX) market on Monday, as it depreciated to N1,164 per dollar on the black market. This marks a 1.21 percent decrease compared to the N1,150 per dollar rate on Friday.
The depreciation is a result of the high demand for dollars by individuals and importers who were unable to meet their FX requirements through the official market due to a scarcity of greenback.
Despite a decrease in dollar liquidity on Friday, the naira actually strengthened against the dollar at the Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM).
The local currency lost 16.88 as the dollar was quoted at N794.89 on Friday as against N956.33, which closed on Thursday at NAFEM, data from the FMDQ indicated.
Willing buyers and willing sellers quoted the dollar at a spot rate of N1,136, the highest and lowest rate of N700 per dollar.
The daily foreign exchange market turnover declined by 28.13 percent to $ 75.82 million on Friday from $105.50 recorded on Thursday.
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