COVID-19: ABCON Seeks Policies to Support Informal Sector

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Obinna Chima

The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) has called on the federal government to design policies to help informal workers overcome the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The association stated this in its quarterly economic report for the first quarter of 2020 (Q1’2020) obtained yesterday.

ABCON noted that while most COVID-19 related government policies were targeted at the formal sector, the informal sector, which accounts for majority of the labour force, that suffers the greatest impact of the pandemic.

“Nigeria has 41.5 million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), accounting for 17.4 million jobs. Most of these MSMEs operate in the informal sector.
“These informal workers suffer disproportionately when large-scale lockdowns are ordered, but at the same time, government aid packages are largely being targeted at formal businesses.

“To ensure that these MSMEs continue to play their critical role in the economy especially employment generation, we recommend that economic policy trust for post COVID-19 must be designed to reach the informal sector that accounts for a larger percentage of the society, the association said.

Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic represents a wake-up call to the government on the need to support indigent members of the society, ABCON said: “A major lesson to be learned from COVID-19 is the practicability of social security policy in Nigeria. Government should be awakened to this prime realization of the need to support the indigent in the society not only during emergencies but under normal conditions.

“This will consequently reduce a lot of social ills in the society and on the long run cost of crime prevention and management will reduce. This will encourage Government to realistically take accurate census and perfect the identification process in the country.”

While commending the efforts of the various government to provide relief materials to alleviate the impact of the lockdown on low-income earners, the association also called for the creation of call centres where members of the public would be able to call to request for food support and also to deliver such support.

“In addition, the association advised that the federal government should sustain the school feeding system by allowing schools to cook while the pupils visit the school to collect the food,” the report added.
The association also urged its members across the country not panic due to the negative consequences of the pandemic, stressing there are also positive consequences with benefits for the BDC business.

It called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to enhance the global competitiveness of BDCs through a phase by phase upgrade of their business model in line with the global trend.
It stated: “As soon as the financial situation becomes stable, exchange rates are subject to significant changes: sharp jumps and falls are common to many currencies.

“However, traders should continue to trade with confidence, the trader can benefit and increase his capital. There should not be fear of increased market volatility; traders should be able to earn on it.

“Principally, BDC business is, first of all, buying and selling of forex, in the currency market, there are always ways and tools that will interact to make profit in the face of uncertainties. If the financial crisis entails a fall in the value of certain currencies, they are always automatic increasing of rates of other currencies, which, with proper analysis, allow traders to make profitable deals.

“Additionally, we urge BDC operators to embrace the innovation initiatives of the Association as a germane panacea to post Covid 19 threats and opportunities.