Low forex margin triggers massive job losses in BDCs

By Babajide Komolafe

A wave of staff retrenchment is sweeping across the bureaux de change (BDC) subsector as operators struggle against declining margins occasioned by uncompetitive dollar selling rate from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

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The CBN sells $20,000 dollars twice per week at N360 per dollars to each of the 3,500 BDCs across the country.

Rising from a general meeting of the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) in Lagos yesterday, BDCs operators unanimously called on the apex bank to urgently review its dollar selling rate to BDCs to N355 per dollar in order to address the wave of staff retrenchment in the industry.

They also called on the apex bank to review downward the annual $250,000 license renewal fee and extend the deadline from January 31st to March 31st.

Meanwhile, the CBN will meet with ABCON tomorrow to discuss the issues raised by the BDCs especially the dollar selling rate.

“BDCs are sacking staff because revenue cannot sustain the overhead,” said Taiwo Ebenezer, ABCON South West Zonal chairman at the Lagos meeting yesterday.

Presently, he added, BDCs have laid off about 40 percent of their workforce in a bid to stay afloat. “This increases the unemployment level in the country, and it is contrary to the policy of the federal government on employment generation”, he said.

“The CBN must reduce this rate, we are losing income, we are losing our staff, we are losing equipment, and we are losing our business”, he stressed.

Addressing the meeting, ABCON President, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe appealed to BDC operators saying the Association is already engaging the CBN on the uncompetitive dollar selling rate.

Represented by the National Treasurer, Alhaji  Gbadamosi Mohammed, he said: “The challenge before us is how to operate  without incurring losses and ABCON will soon meet to discuss this with the CBN. We are now selling dollars even below the CBN selling rate, and this cannot continue in view of our operating expenses. We have discussed with the CBN and told them to reduce the dollar selling rate for BDCs or place us on the same platform with banks, and sell to us at N357 per dollar.”

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