Monthly import bill averages N102 billion, says CBN

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Institutions must offer skills in self-sufficiency

The nation’s import-related demand for foreign exchange rose to N102 billion monthly, despite the sliding fortunes of foreign exchange inflows from oil, which fell short of $1.36 billion monthly.

The increased demand, which shows the country’s dependence on imported items, even the ones that can be made in the country, was in contrast to monthly average import bill of N12.4 billion in 2005; N65.6 billion in 2013; and N73.2 billion in 2014.

Consequently, the exchange rate has depreciated by 22 per cent n the last one year, while the external reserves have fallen to $27.5 billion from $37 billion in June 2014.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, made the disclosure at the 40th anniversary and 22nd convocation ceremonies of the University of Maiduguri, Borno State, on Thursday.

Delivering a lecture titled “Managing the Quandary of Commodity Price Declines in an Oil Dependent Economy”, the bank chief, who was represented by his deputy, Alhaji Suleiman Barau, also noted that the unsustainable level of foreign exchange demand was also driven by speculators and round-trippers beside the genuine import bills.

Meanwhile, he has challenged the nation’s tertiary institutions to improve teaching and learning experiences to secure the desirable links among knowledge generation, economic growth and structural remodeling.

He said that educational institutions must now impart to students high-level skills required to obtain and retain employment and mostly create jobs, as well as align academic curricula with the development agenda of the time.

The bank chief also tasked institutions on quality research across economically important sectors, which can facilitate the diffusion of new knowledge and new processes that are capable changing positively the status quo.

He said that the apex bank, however, realised that amid the challenges lie an opportunity for the country to restructure, reposition and re-strategise to diversify the economy and strengthen its fundamentals by reducing import dependence, as well as becoming self-sufficient.

“We remain certain that the actions taken are broadly required to set our economy on the path of development in the medium-to-long term. It is apparent that we as a people cannot continue to depend on other countries for things that can be easily produced locally.

“How do we justify the importation of eggs from South Africa; beef from Zambia; and toothpick from China?,” he queried.

According to him, CBN’s renewed drive in development financing was part of its quest to engender inclusive growth by bolstering productive capacity and ensuring that Nigeria has set its foot on the path to self-sufficiency, as well as realise it “in every sense and word.”

“Based on our experiences at CBN, most of these measures taken to improve our fortunes will be decried, kicked against and harshly criticised. But we would never lose sight of what is important,” he added.

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