ABCON Advocates Unification Of Exchange Rates To Boost Remittances

January 13, 2021
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BY BUKOLA IDOWU  |

Bureaux De Change operators, under the auspices of the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) have said, the unification of exchange rates is necessary to maximise the economic benefits of increased remittances inflow into the economy.

They, however, urged the federal government to continue talks on the Eco currency.

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The association, in its quarterly economic review for the fourth quarter of 2020, stressed that without the unification of the multiple exchange rates across the forex market, the increased inflow of remittances may be vulnerable to capital flight and hence make limited impact on the economy.

While commending the recent policy measures introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to improve inflow of remittances, by allowing beneficiaries  to collect proceeds in foreign currency, ABCON  noted that, “the fundamental problem is not the payment of foreign currency to beneficiaries but a fallout of multiple exchange rates in Nigeria’s foreign exchange market.

“A survey carried out by ABCON quarterly revealed that a large percentage of beneficiaries require Naira for domestic commitments in Nigeria. Upon collection of foreign currency cash or drawing from their Domiciliary accounts as the policy provided, they do the conversion usually unofficially where the exchange rates are higher.

“Though the authorities are able to capture figures of the inflows from the data of the International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) for statistical purposes, utilization of the foreign exchange may still flow into the unofficial/ informal sector for capital flight and other uses not marginally expedient for the growth of the forex market.

“Thus, a major policy trust should focus on unification of exchange rates and diversification of the operational base to achieve a competitive outlook,” it pointed out.

The association also called on the federal government not to give up on the single currency (Eco) project for the West African region stressing that the proposed currency is critical to Nigeria’s quest for economic diversification.

ABCON stated, “We are recommending two dimensions of diversification: trade diversification which focuses on exporting new or better products, or to new market;  and  domestic production diversification which means  cross-sectoral rebalancing of output, driving the reallocation of resources across industries and within industries between firms to increase total factor productivity.

“Thus, a careful consideration of the sub-regions market where Nigeria has a dominant strength should be explored. Closing the ECOWAS market is directing them to Chinese and European markets.

The common currency for the sub-region gives Nigeria a large market hence it was upturned by the European power as the system was about to take off. Government should not give up on the project.”

In the same vein, ABCON also called on BDC operators to pursue full automation of their operations for greater transparency and participation in the remittances market.

It stated that, “BDC sub-sector needs to undertake a total structural re-engineering of operations through improved technical training of operators to be able to cope with the emerging realities of the foreign exchange markets in developing economies. The process should encompass full automation of operations to be able to operate migrant remittance activities. Total review and repositioning of models of operations to reflect greater transparency, efficiency and inbuilt aggregate economic development goals should be drawn and presented to the authorities for consideration.”

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