The Organised Private Sector (OPS) has berated the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for not lifting the ban placed on 41 items from accessing foreign exchange. The private sector operators said that CBN’s silence on the banned items denotes that the apex bank was not ready to re-jig the country’s economy towards reviving the manufacturing industry. Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, who disclosed this in a chat also noted that the recent CBN foreign exchange policy allowing commercial banks to receive dollar denomination from individuals and the foreclosure of dollars to Bureaux de Change would not have any major impact on the economy.
He insisted that the apex bank needs to review the 41 items on the prohibition list for the interest of local importers of goods, adding that the present inflation rate is worrisome for any operator. Yusuf noted that the high naira rate of N307 to $1 is a bad omen to any prospective manufacturer in the country as it accounts for the high cost of goods. He said: “There are, however, a number of concerns.
First, the CBN was silent on the exclusion of the 41 items from the foreign exchange market. My submission is that the restriction of the items should be urgently reviewed and their transactions possibly limited to the autonomous foreign exchange market. The second concern is the silence on access to export proceeds by exporters. Exporters should be given ample flexibility and freedom in the use of their export proceeds.
They should not be deprived of the benefits of prevailing currency market conditions. This would give a significant boost to nonoil exports. The third worry is that if the CBN continues to maintain its official exchange rate at N307/dollar at a time of dwindling forex inflow, the pressure on the official window will persist. The risk of round tripping and distortions in the foreign exchange market will consequently remain high.
On the whole, the review is welcome, especially in the light of weak and dwindling reserves.” The LCCI boss admitted that CBN’s foreign policy is responsible for the inequalities in the nation’s economy, especially as it took adverse effect on the manufacturing sector. “The enormity of the challenges faced by the CBN in managing rapidly depleting foreign reserves is appreciated.
The foreign exchange policy review, to some extent, addresses the concerns of economic operators. It is a partial response to the concerns of investors as better latitude has been created for the autonomous market to operate. But we have to see the guidelines to be able to assess the full consequences of the review.