Nigerians are grappling with an economic recession following a plunge in the global price of oil.
Nigerians are grappling with an economic recession following a plunge in the global price of oil. Many businesses have closed shop and commodity prices have since hit the roof.
Nigeria runs an import dependent economy.
At a Forex policy dialogue in Lagos put together by the British High Commission, Tuesday, the Special Adviser to the CBN Governor, Mr. Emmanuel Ukeje said “the CBN doesn’t take selfish decisions. We are all Nigerians. Every decision we take is in the interest of the Nigerian economy and its people”.
At the dialogue session, co-panelists and renowned economists like Bismarck Rewane, Nneka Okekearu (who represented small and medium enterprises), representatives of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), blamed the Forex crisis on the CBN’s policy somersaults and lack of transparency from the regulatory authorities.
“Signals and messaging have to be consistent”, said Rewane who wondered why the CBN recently suspended nine banks for non-implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) when it could have handled the situation without instilling more shocks and uncertainty into the market.
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Speaker after speaker bemoaned the lack of coordination between the monetary and fiscal authorities and wondered why the CBN appears to be rigging the Forex market; thereby making room for speculators and hoarders of foreign currency.
Ukeje denied this was the case, saying portfolio investors are always looking for reasons to run away with their monies.
The CBN official also said no nation allows a free market with respect to its currency operations.
“We operate a flexible exchange rate that is managed”, said Ukeje.
The dialogue was lively, charged and interactive. It also provided an avenue for policy makers to interact with the organized private sector on a range of monetary and fiscal issues.
Two entrepreneurs in Chigozie Nwanguma (who deals in Catfish production) and Opeyemi Owosho (who trades in Table-top gas stoves) lamented that the Forex shortage is sending their businesses under.
A representative of the Presidency, Mr. Segun Awolowo, promised that government was doing all it can to get Nigeria out of recession.
Awolowo also said ramping up exports is the only way out of Nigeria’s economic crisis.
He said the economic management team chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is working round the clock to improve the nation’s ease of doing business index.
“We must export or perish”, said Awolowo.
However, Mrs. Okekearu said the bureaucracy around doing business in Nigeria discourages entrepreneurship and Agriculture.
She noted that if government is serious about diversifying the economy, the bottlenecks around registration of businesses and the hundreds of checkpoints on the roads, have to be discarded.
Mr. Andrew Fleming of the British High Commission, told Pulse that the dialogue was put together to provide a forum where government and the private sector can interface and share ideas on the way out of Nigeria’s biting economic recession.