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CBN Apex bank cancels Foreign Exchange accessibility for rice, cement importers

He said the country is spending huge amount to import things that could be produced locally.

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Godwin Emefiele play

Godwin Emefiele

(Bella Naija)

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says importers of rice, cement and other products will no longer access Foreign Exchange from CBN, Banks and Bureau De change for such importation.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who disclosed this at a news conference on Wednesday, June 24, in Abuja, said the measure would prevent further depletion of the country’s foreign reserve.

He said the country is spending huge amount to import things that could be produced locally.

Emefiele said the apex bank will not continue to support the importation of such items through the use of the hard earned foreign exchange.

Some of the products include margarine, palm kernel, palm oil products, meat and processed meat products, vegetables, private airplanes and jets, Indian incense, tinned fish, galvanised steel sheet, roofing sheet and furniture.

"Importers who may want to continue importing these goods would have to sort their foreign exchange from their own private sources.

"The CBN will continue to be vigilant around this policy, keep reviewing the list of items as it becomes comfortable that these items can be produced locally if we apply ourselves sufficiently.

"This policy change is in line with the believe that Nigeria cannot attain its true potentials by simply importing everything into the country.

"We have to decide what we really want for our country and I believe that the time is now for that deep and honest conversation,’’ he said.

He said in spite of relative positive GDP growth over the past seven years, there is no corresponding reduction in unemployment and poverty.

He said bank’s analysis of the situation had compelled it to put to a stop forex access to some of these goods to encourage local production and consumption for economic development.

He also said that the Federal Government is spending about N1.3 trillion on the average annually to import rice, fish, sugar and wheat.

"Why should we continue importing rice into Nigeria when vast amount of paddy rice produced by local farmers across rice belts are being wasted and ignored.

What will it take for these importers to stop importation and go into processing this locally produced rice.

"Why are they not utilising large expands of arable lands for cultivation instead of importing rice into the country,’’ he said.

Emefiele said that Nigeria had been creating jobs for other countries, while importing rice into the country.

He said it was unfortunate that sardines, tooth picks, among others, were imported into the country.

Emefele said the apex bank had no power to ban the importation of the items, but noted that it would work hard to ensure support for local production.

He said local production will reduce poverty, unemployment and pressure on the reserve.

"I believe that the current situation we found ourselves affords us a unique opportunity to embrace self sufficiency in Nigeria.

"We should also reduce our appetite for everything and anything foreign, conserve reserve and create jobs at home for our people.

"With full complement of the bank management, we would continue to look for areas which the bank can play a catalytic financial role to achieve the goal in the near future,’’ he said.

On lifting of ban on importation of textiles and furniture by the Nigeria Customs, he said CBN will not provide foreign exchange for people that would want to import such products. (NAN)

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