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  • The Guardian

CBN to restrict forex on more food items, says Emefiele

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele has disclosed that it will deny foreign exchange (Forex) for importation of more items at both commercial banks and the apex bank levels.

Emefiele stated this in Abuja at the opening of a two-day retreat for ministers’ designates and top government officials at the Presidential Villa yesterday.Speaking, he said the authorities would also not renege on President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to CBN to stop issuing Forex for food imports into Nigeria.

Specifically, President Buhari had last week in Daura, Katsina State, directed the CBN to stop giving foreign exchange for food imports into the country.On the implementation of the President’s directive on Forex, Emefiele said, “Mr. President’s comment on issuing of Forex to food importers into the country, is in the logic of CBN management’s foreign exchange policies that we started since 2016.

“We started with about 41 food and non-food items, because we believe that those items could be produced in the country. As we stand today, there are about 43 items on the list and I will say that substantially most of them are food items. “If we have a food item that could be produced in the country, why should we waste scare foreign exchange importing those items into the country, when those can be produced in the country?.”

He also explained that attempt to misrepresent the President’s comments is unfair and unfortunate.“But, Mr. President made the comment purely to strengthen CBN’s position, to say that he believes in what the CBN has been doing since 2016 and there is need for us to reinforce that going forward,” he added.

Emefiele insisted that there would be no amendment to the policy because the issue essentially has to do with efforts to end exporting of jobs to other countries. “Today we are complaining that there is a high rate of unemployment, leading to some extent the level of insecurity in the country, why should we allow people to import food that can be produced in the country?

On whether the President’s directive would not affect the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) Nigeria just signed into, Emefiele said it would not affect its content because the AfCFTA is an ongoing agreement which terms of engagement are still being discussed and negotiated.

Meanwhile, at retreat for ministers-designates ahead of inauguration of the new cabinet, the President challenged them to live up to the tasks ahead of them.

Buhari stated that this was in line with his administration’s efforts at addressing the numerous problems facing the country, adding that Nigeria has all the solutions to the challenges facing the country if the leaders at various levels pay attention to the opportunities in their environment.

He noted that the Nigeria’s population has been estimated at 200 million, while and United Nations (UN) has projected the country’s population at 411 million by 2050 behind India and China.

“These are frightening prospects, but only if we sit idly by and expect handouts from so-called developing partners.

The solution to our problems lie with us,” he added.


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