CBN explains Buhari’s order on food import, hints plan to ban more items

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele has reacted to the recent statement by President Muhammadu Buhari regarding the issuance of forex to food importers. 

He spoke to newsmen on Monday on the sideline of the presidential retreat held for ministers-designate in Abuja Emefiele, who said the order was already in the logic of the CBN management’s foreign exchange policies, also revealed plan to ban more items from gaining access to forex. 

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.

“It is important for me to say that the attempt to misrepresent the comments of Mr. President is very unfair and unfortunate.

“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 need for us to reinforce that going forward.

“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 Nigerian banking industry not just from the CBN source.

 Asked if there will be any amendment to the implementation, the CBN boss replied: “There will never be an amendment because the issue is this, why should we be exporting jobs to other countries?

“Today we are complaining that there is a high rate of unemployment, leading to some extent the level of insecurity in the country, why should we allow people to import food that can be produced in the country?

“We need to improve wealth in our rural communities and I am saying we will not change course, we will even be more aggressive on this programme.”

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