The House of Representatives has overruled the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by suspending the proposed increase of Bureau De Change (BDC) operators operating capital base from N10 million to N35 million.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, has also been summoned by the House to brief the House Committee on Banking and Currency headed by Hon. Jones Onyeriri-led on the controversial policy.
According to the lawmakers, the CBN directive, which ought to take effect in two weeks, is likely to cause massive unemployment and give the Dollar more power over the Naira.
The resolution of the House was sequel to the adoption of a motion brought by a member, Hon. Ibrahim Shehu- Gusau, (PDP, Zamfara) on urgent need to halt the recent increase in capital base for Bureaux De Change by 25 percent.
Gusau while presenting the motion said CBN has raised the
minimum capital requirement for operation of BDCs in Nigeria from NIO million to N35m, Adding that the mandatory cautionary deposit was equally reviewed upwards from N3m to N35m.
This, he noted, is to be deposited in a non-interest yielding account in the CBN along with the Licensing fee reviewed from N500,000 to Nl million; and Annual Renewal fee increased from N10,000 to N25,000 while the application fee of N100,000 remained unchanged.
The lawmaker said there should be an immediate halt to the proposed CBN policy as the BDCs has provided millions of Nigerians job opportunities.
He further stated: “Bureau De Change has provided millions of Nigerians job opportunities. I am worried that the new rule will send many BDC operators out of business. The increments are outrageous against the backdrop that the CBN will also reduce the amount of dollars being issued to BDCs from $50,000 to $15,000 per week”
Another member, Hon. Asita Honourable (Rivers/APC) was in support of Shehu- Gusau’s argument said the CBN directive was “super elitist and racist in nature”.
Hon. Victor Nwokolo (Delta/PDP) spoke against the motion saying the CBN is doing the right thing.
He posited that increasing the operating capital base of BDCs will strengthen foreign exchange transactions and said this was similar to the 2005 bank recapitalization.
Hon. Hassan Saleh, (PDP, Benue) was of the opinion that insurgency in the country is being caused by unemployment in some parts of the country “and you want to squeeze Nigerians that have been squeezed, this one will not work,” he said.
Hon. Karibo Nado, (PDP, Bayelsa) while supporting the motion said the CBN guideline is “a policy that will affect market women, bus conductors and lead to unemployment in Nigeria because it affects all and sundry.”
In his contribution, Hon. Aminu Suleiman, APC, Kano said: “I’ve received several calls from relatives and operators who are already complaining of the increase that their blood pressure had already gone up”.
The motion was however opposed by other members who include Hons. Friday Itulah, Linus Okorie (PDP, Ebonyi) and Sunday Karimi (PDP Kogi).
When the Speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal who presided, called for a voice vote, those in support that the new CBN policy be halted were in the majority.
The CBN released new guidelines for BDC operators and reviewed the operating capital base to N35 million from N10 million to put a stop to the continuous depletion in the country’s external reserves and the financing of unauthorised transactions.
The CBN also directed that all BDCs applying for the new licence are to pay an application fee of N100,000; a licensing fee of N1 million and an annual renewal fee of N250,000. According to the CBN, July 15 is the deadline for the implementation of the new policy.