No ban, restriction on importation of food items – Presidency

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The Presidency has described as untrue reports suggesting that the country has placed a ban on the importation of food items.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Garba Shehu stated this in a letter addressed to the Editor of Financial Times over a report published by the media house alleging that the Buhari administration had placed embargo or restrictions on food imports.

According to the presidential aide, there is no ban or restriction placed on the importation of agricultural products into the country as being insinuated in the report.

He maintained that the Buhari administration had consistently worked towards strengthening Nigeria’s own industrial and agricultural base.

The statement read in parts:”Sir – Your article “Muhammadu Buhari sparks dismay over policy shift on food imports” (Aug. 15) suggests the Nigerian Government is restricting the import of agricultural products into the country. This is simply incorrect.

”To be absolutely clear, there is no ban or restriction on the importation of food items whatsoever.

”President Buhari has consistently worked towards strengthening Nigeria’s own industrial and agricultural base. A recent decision sees the Central Bank maintain its reserves to put to use helping growth of domestic industry in 41 product sectors rather than provide FOREX for the import of those products from overseas.

”Should importers of these items wish to source their FOREX from non-government financial institutions (and pay customs duty on those imports – increasing tax-take, something the FT has berated Nigeria for not achieving on many occasions) they are freely able to do so.

”Diversification of FOREX provision towards the private sector and away from top-heavy government control, a diversification of Nigeria’s industrial base, and an increase in tax receipts – are all policies one might expect the Financial Times to support.

”Yet for reasons not quite clear, the author and this newspaper seem to believe the president’s administration seeks to control everything – and yet do so via policies that relinquish government control.

”We look forward to the next installment of M. Munshi’s bizarre and puzzling article series.” he said.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had last week told the Central Bank of Nigeria not to sell foreign currencies used for international transactions to persons in the business of importing food into the country.

According to Buhari, Nigeria currently has enough food for its citizens following several reforms in the agriculture sector by his administration, adding that there was no need to continue to import the same into the country.

The President said that Nigeria’s foreign reserve should be conserved for the diversification of the economy.

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