Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele has said thatthe 22 per cent depreciation of the naira was reasonable when compared with other emerging economies adversely affected by global economic recession.
He disclosed this during an interactive session with editors in Abuja on the state of the naira, and by the extension the economy.
“Our situation is not as bad as people think. When you devalue, there must be a structural adjustment. We have never followed up with structural adjustment. So, the approach we are adopting at the moment is that, having done a 22-per cent adjustment in the currency, let us structurally adjust our position.
“Let us say, look, stop importing rice; stop importing toothpick; stop importing tomato from South Africa; stop importing 20 million eggs daily from Africa.
The CBN boss said in other to reduce the pressure on the nation’s foreign exchange, importers must restrict their imports to raw materials and equipment rather than finished products and food.
Emefiele said CBN had created the enabling environment to encourage the growth of small scale businesses through the grant of soft loans to small business operators.
He said only N60 billion of the more than N200 billion soft loans meant for SMEs had been accessed so far.
“CBN will soon start a nationwide campaign to sensitise Nigerians to items excluded from importation. This is part of efforts to save more foreign exchange and stabilise the nation’s currency. The solution to free fall of the naira is by controlling the demand for foreign currencies such as the dollar.
“If we are able to reduce importation, the demand for the dollar will fall automatically.”
He said the apex bank is evolving additional measures to boost the nation’s economy and stabilize the naira, but declined to give details and modalities.
The CBN boss explained that the Nigerian economy was not as bad as being portrayed when compared with other economies in Africa.
According to him, the apex bank has ensured reasonable stability in the value of the naira by keeping official exchange to the dollar between N196 and N197 to the dollar.