By Odunewu Segun
President Muhammadu Buhari is currently reviewing the list of 41 items which the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) banned last year from assessing the official foreign exchange window for their import- obviously bowing to mounting pressure from manufacturers and the Organised Private Sector.
National daily gathered that a high level meetings have been holding on the matter and that government’s intention is to review the list downwards or even totally overhaul it.
A senior government official, speaking off the record, told our reporter that: “There is a review currently ongoing on the 41 goods on the CBN foreign exchange ban list. They will decide to either cut down on the list or overhaul, but it will be one of the two”.
There has been mounting pressure from the Organised Private Sector (OPS), the international community, as well as analysts, for the Federal Government to review the policy which the CBN insists would help preserve the fast depleting foreign reserves and also save local manufacturing.
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said in April, that it lost N230 billion in anticipated revenues in the last quarter of 2015 due to the CBN’s closure of the foreign exchange window to the 41 banned items.
The Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ibrahim Ali, disclosed then, that he had opened talks and made a request for a policy review to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also raised the issue in April, during her official visit to Nigeria, warning that the restrictions on the 41 items was making an already bad situation worse in the foreign exchange market.
“We believe that a more flexible exchange rate will be more efficient than to have a list of products that are barred from being imported into the country.”
Some of the goods and services excluded from accessing dollars from the CBN window include; poultry, including chicken, eggs, turkey, private airplanes/jets, Indian incense, tinned fish in sauce (sardines), cold rolled steel sheets, roofing sheets, wheelbarrows, head pans, metal boxes and containers, enamelware, steel drums, steel pipes, wire rods (deformed and not deformed), iron rods and reinforcing bars, wire mesh, steel nails, security and razor wire, wood particle boards and panels, wood fiber boards and panels and wooden doors.
Others are furniture, toothpaste, glass and glassware, kitchen utensils, tableware, tiles, (vitrified and ceramic), textiles, woven fabrics, clothes, plastic and rubber products, polypropylene granules, cellophane wrappers, soap and cosmetics, tomatoes/tomato pastes.