The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently disclosed that the policy to stop Foreign Exchange for the importation of food into the country has since commenced.
CBN Director Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor, made this known. He also reiterated that the government took the decision t ban forex for food importation in the interest of national economic growth and development.
This is contrary to insinuations going around in the public domain that the policy is yet to commence because CBN is yet to work out modalities and timeline for its implementation.
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According to the CBN Director:
The implementation started since 2015. We started by excluding 41 items; subsequently, we included others, now we have eliminated all sorts of food import which we know that can easily be produced in Nigeria. The country cannot be food sufficient if we continue like this.
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.
Nigerian Banker reported that the president Buhari provided explanations on why he decided to order CBN to stop forex for food importation. In the report, Malam Garba Shehu, the President’s spokesman said Buhari stated this when he hosted All Progressives Congress (APC) governors to Eid-el-Kabir lunch at his country home in Daura, Katsina state on Tuesday.
Several Nigerian has reacted differently to the policy, while some praised the president directive, other are concerned about the interference of the President in CBN independence.
The loudest voices in this condemnation of the president is a former Deputy Governor of CBN and a presidential candidate in the last general election, Kingsley Moghalu. According to him,
Our economy will not be saved by Ad Hoc political decisions like this, handed down to the very institutions that should be shielded from the whim and caprice of politicians.
Nigeria’s entire economy appears to have been subcontracted to our Central Bank, including industrial and trade policy. In the process, the economy has fared poorly, and the Central Bank has lost its independence. This is sad!