CBN Governor breaks silence on FOREX restrictions for food imports

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  • Says more items will be banned

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has finally reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s pronouncement on foreign exchange restriction for food importation, stating that more items will be banned to save FOREX.

Speaking with State House correspondents at the retreat for ministerial designates in the Presidential Villa, Emefiele reportedly stated that the move is an attempt to stop the importation of items that Nigeria has the capacity to produce, stressing that the country’s foreign reserves should not be wasted on importing food items.

“We are basically saying if we have a food item that can 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?”

Commenting further, Emefiele claimed the president’s speech has been largely misrepresented, describing the criticisms received as unfair and unfortunate.

“It is important for me to say that the attempt to misrepresent the comments of Mr. President is very unfair and unfortunate. But, what we will say from the CBN is that Mr. President has made this comment purely to strengthen the position of the CBN, to say that he believes in what the CBN has been doing since 2016 and there is the need for us to reinforce that going forward.”

Again, Emefiele disclosed that the CBN would aggressively drive the policy as more items would be banned to restrict food importers from accessing foreign exchange from both the CBN source and the Nigerian banking industry.

“Because, I have heard some comments that maybe it’s about the CBN’s source, it is not the CBN’s source, we are saying you will not be able to access foreign exchange from the Nigerian banking industry because it is important for us to produce these items in Nigeria and we will follow through on them”

Reacting to whether the CBN would amend the policy, Emefiele revealed further that there would be no amendment due to the fact that the high rate of unemployment is traceable to jobs exported from high importation of items that should ideally be produced in Nigeria.

With the development, it suggests the executive may already be in pole position to give CBN policy direction as widely reported prior to the Emefiele’s affirmation.

Recall that policy analysts have widely questioned why the announcement came initially from the federal government and not the monetary policy authority itself.

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