...say more items to be added

Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has addressed the controversy surrounding President Muhammadu Buhari’s pronouncement on foreign exchange, forex, restriction for food importation, stating that more items will be banned to save forex.

Emefiele who spoke to State House correspondents at the retreat for ministerial designates at the Presidential Villa, affirmed the President’s announcement, disclosing that the President’s action is in the logic of CBN’s management foreign exchange policies that started since 2016.

The apex bank governor maintained that the move was an attempt to stop importation of items that the country can produce.

He argued 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,” he said.

“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 we stand 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 said the president’s speech has been largely misrepresented, describing the criticisms received as unfair and unfortunate.

He went further to say that the apex bank will 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.

“I will say that to honest, we would aggressively go more into the list of items that are being imported into the country, items that can be produced in Nigeria. I will like to stress that we would ensure that more of these items will get on the list of items that are going to be restricted from accessing foreign exchange in the Nigerian banking industry not just from the CBN source,” he said.

“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”