• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Why naira-dollar exchange rate gap is widening – ABCON

Explainer on Economics of black market

The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) says the widening gap between the official and parallel market exchange rates is driven by acute dollar scarcity due to the continued suspension of foreign exchange sales to BDCs by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

ABCON stated this in its quarterly economy review for the first quarter (Q1) of 2022, expressing concerns over the inability of the fiscal and monetary authorities to address the wide parallel market and multiple exchange rates in the country.

The gap between the official and parallel market exchange rates (premium) widened to N171.83 per dollar at the end of the first quarter of 2022 from N106.33 per dollar on Wednesday, July 28, 2021, a day before the apex bank suspended dollar sales to BDCs.

Commenting on the trend, ABCON said: “A premium is the outcome of market restrictions that drive the non-official supply and demand for foreign currency which is a symptom of the inconsistency of fiscal and monetary policies. It also shows a lack of credibility in exchange rate policy given the level of foreign reserves.

“That fiscal and monetary policies in Nigeria cannot curtail the premium that rent-seeking dealers in foreign exchange, (banks and other intermediaries), is worrisome and highly contributory to the distortions in the economy.

“Multiple exchange rates cause distortions by manipulating relative prices in the economy and widen opportunities for rent-seeking behaviour for those who have access to the lower exchange rates. When the multiple exchange rates are corrected, it would promote a more efficient application of market-driven relative prices to allocate resources in the economy.”

The association also highlighted the nation’s huge public debt and increasing level of poverty, recommending that the Federal Government should reconsider its strategy of depending on debt to grow the economy.

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“The Nigerian economy is currently faced with two major interrelated problems: heavy indebtedness and the incidence of poverty. Together, they have important implications for growth possibilities,” ABCON said, adding that, “it’s high time the government reconsiders its current strategies of total dependence on debt for the survival of the economy otherwise it may run the country to a comatose coupled with the high and uncontrollable incidence of insecurity in the nation. Inability to address the problem of increasing poverty will necessarily fuel crime and insecurity.”

On the way forward, the association recommended the need for a common understanding of the problem by all stakeholders, and agreement on a set of coherent policy responses from a wider development perspective, to complement all current approaches.

“The situation in Nigeria has been longer-term situations relating to structural, financial and transfer-of-resources problems requiring appropriate medium to longer-term measures. These should commence with:

“Transparency and accountability in operations: lack of transparency and accountability can exacerbate financial weakness at the firm and national levels and complicate efforts to resolve crises;

“There must be medium to long term economic structural plans to redirect the economy from a totally import-dependent to a foreign exchange earning one. And also from a crude oil-based economy, and “rapid employment opportunities for the youth through the introduction of modern agricultural development processes,” it said.