Following on the heels of the Federal Government’s directive on restriction of foreign exchange for food importation last week, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefirle has stated that more items are likely to be added to the FOREX restriction list.
Recall that last Tuesday, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, had announced that the President had directed the CBN to stop providing FOREX for the importation of food into the country.
Speaking with State House correspondents during the presidential retreat for ministerial designates in the Presidential Villa on Monday, Emefiele affirmed the President’s announcement, adding that the President’s action was in line with CBN’s management foreign exchange policies that started since 2016.
Emefiele stated that the move was 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.
“Let me say this, Mr. President’s comment on the issuing of forex to people who import food items into the country is in the logic of CBN’s management foreign exchange policies that we started since 2016.
“If you recall, we started with about 41 items (food and non-food items), because we believe that those items can be produced in the country. As it stands today, there are about 43 items on that list and I will say substantially most of them are 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?”
Emefiele stated that the president’s speech had 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.”