The House of Representatives and the Politics of Hawking Dollars on Nigerian Streets

A trip outside the country will expose the almost criminal activities of bureau de change operators in Nigeria. Not even among African countries do one see the kind of bizarre manner of transacting foreign currency business. That was one area, the suspended central bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who later emerged the Emir of Kano did not look into.
Recently, the move to sanitize the foreign exchange market is being met  with resistance from quarters that should encourage an autonomous central bank  to carry out it’s duty.
In South Africa, before one can change currency, the process will leave a Nigerian wondering why the big deal? Even in Ghana, you do not just enter a street corner to change your currency as is done in Nigeria. The result is that in those countries, the issue of fake dollars or naira is almost non-existence.
But back home in Nigeria, a section of lawmakers think otherwise. For them, plundering the economy in whatever way is part of providing job opportunities.
The foreign exchange market as is currently run, has helped a lot of people move huge amount of monies illegally outside the country. 
The process, as it is in Nigeria has encourage round tripping to the extent that, some bureau de change have raw cash doubling the newly proposed N35 million, either in naira or dollars.
It is therefore pertinent to encourage the Nigerian lawmakers to separate politics from business, and not refer to fake money dealers as genuinely employed persons.
In the past, more serious actions has been take. To cleanse the system, and nobody from the House of Representatives made this kind of protest. It will recalled that Nigeria had about 90 banks, but after capital requirement was raised, the banks shrank to about 25, which is today even lesser.
The result of that painful exercise left more viable banks that depositors could go home sleep with their two eyes closed without the fear of sudden collapse.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) has reported that the House of Representatives has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to suspend the new requirement of N35 million increment in capital base for operators of Bureau De Change in Nigeria.
The CBN had on June 23, increased the capital base for Bureau De Change by 25 per cent, representing N35 million as against the N10 million.
The house also mandated the Committee on Banking and Currency to invite the CBN to brief it on the new requirement.
The resolution followed a motion moved by Ibrahim Shehu-Gusau (PDP-Zamfara), which was unanimously adopted.
Leading the debate, Shehu-Gusau noted that the mandatory cautionary deposit was equally reviewed from N3 million to N35 million to be deposited in a non-interest yielding account with the CBN.
He said that the licensing fee was also increased from N500,000 to N1 million, while the annual renewal fee was increased from N10,000 to N25,000.
He stated that the new requirement was likely to send many operators out of business as it had provided millions of Nigerians job opportunities.
“The increments are outrageous against the backdrop that the CBN will also reduce the amount of dollars being issued to bureau de change from $50,000 to $15,000  per week.’’
Contributing to the debate, Rep. Aminu Suleiman (APC-Kano), said that the new requirement by the CBN for bureau de change would affect his constituents livelihood negatively.
According to him, there is the need for the apex bank to review the requirement to allow operators continue with their jobs.
Ali Madaki (APC-Kano), said that the new requirement, if allowed to stay, would cause unemployment which was already high in the country.
The lawmaker noted that the increment in the capital base would also kill the informal sector which had provided job opportunities for a large section of the population.
In his remarks, Asita Honourable (APC-Rivers), said that the increment was wrongly timed as the nation was experiencing high unemployment.
However, some members who spoke against the motion said that the action of the apex bank was in order as it would strengthen the sector.
Rep. Victor Nwokolo (PDP-Delta) said the new requirement would not only strengthen the sector, but would also strengthen the value of the naira.
In his contributions, Linus Okorie (PDP-Ebonyi) said the increase in the capital base would strengthen operations of bureau de change in the country, as groups would put resources together to operate.
Friday Itulah (PDP-Edo) said the new requirement was aimed at ensuring that things were done properly.
He suggested that officials of the apex bank should be invited to interface with the relevant committee of the house on what necessitated the increment. 

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