(Business in Cameroon) - Despite the Central African Employers' Union (UNIPACE)’s pleas, the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) is intent on strictly implementing the new foreign exchange regulation, which became enforceable in the CEMAC region in March 2019, after its adoption in December 2018.
On May 11, 2021, the UNIPACE pleaded for an easing of the conditions set in the said regulation for the clearance of import domiciliation files. But, reading through the circular published by the BEAC on May 24, one would guess that the central bank is not hearing the union’s plea.
In the circular addressed to credit institutions and economic operators active in the CEMAC region, the central bank first defined the steps economic operators must take. First, it reminded that they must gather the documents (like final invoices, expense accounts, debit notes, accounting details delivered by the customs administration, a receipt proving that customs duties have been paid, customs documents, waybills, etc…) required to clear an import procedure domiciliated with a credit institution before issuing new foreign exchange transaction orders for import purposes.
“Any transfer document sent to the central bank on behalf of an economic operator who has not gathered the required documents to clear the former pre-funded transactions will be simply rejected without prejudice of enforceable sanctions, no matter the credit institution that submits the said documents (…) For instance, if the files of an economic agent are not cleared for operations carried out in credit institution A, the new transfer operation initiated by that economic agent through credit institution B will be rejected by the central bank. The non-compliance with the nomenclature will mean that the clearing documents have not been transmitted. Also, if the clearing documents are illegible, the central bank will consider that the documents were not transmitted [and therefore reject the transfer document],” reads the circular signed by Abbas Mahamat Tolly (photo), governor of the BEAC.
Procedures to follow
The BEAC indicates that even the credit institutions that settle their clients’ goods and services imports with the foreign currencies at their disposal must make sure the said clients have the required documents to prove the nature of the operations as well as the applicant and the beneficiary in compliance with the anti-money laundering/terrorist financing regulation.
Also, the domiciliary credit institution must follow up on the clearance of all the import files requiring settlement through the use of foreign currencies. The documents required to clear such cases must also be sent to the central bank in the dedicated email address within the regulatory deadlines, the circular adds.
The BEAC ends its circular by cautioning credit institutions against executing transfer orders issued by an economic agent that would have not submitted all the documents needed to clear older foreign exchange transactions they carried out on behalf of the said agent.
Doing so amounts to “executing transfer without all the supporting documents and, it is sanctioned [financial penalties mostly] per article 164 of the law n° 02/18/Cemac/Umac/CM of December 21, 2018, regulating foreign exchange transactions in the CEMAC region.”