Forex ban on food import has commenced, says CBN

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that the policy to stop Foreign Exchange (Forex) for the importation of food into the country has since commenced. This is contrary to widespread speculation in the public domain that the CBN is yet to work out modalities and timeline for the implementation of the new policy regime on the food import restriction.

Isaac Okoroafor, the Director, Corporate Communications of the CBN, who made this new development known, reiterated that the government took the drastic measure in the interest of national economic growth and development.

“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,” Okoroafor was quoted.

Nairametrics had reported that in an apparent breach of the CBN’s independence, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the apex bank to stop providing Forex for the importation of food into the country.

In a statement issued by the presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, the president disclosed that the directive was given to ensure the steady improvement in agricultural production and attainment of full food security.

Concerns: Mixed reactions have continued to trail the directive. While much emphasis has been placed on whether the move is an apparent breach of the CBN’s independence or not, some have asserted that the announcement might worsen the economy as Nigeria has neither achieved food security nor sufficiency.

Reacting to the policy, a former Deputy Governor of the CBN, Kingsley Moghalu, reacted that the issue wasn’t whether or not CBN should allow access to Forex for food imports. According to him, it was about whether such an economic policy should be imposed by a political authority.

Moghalu said, “Our economy will not be saved by Ad Hoc political decisions like this, handed down by the very institutions that should be shielded from the whim and caprice of politicians.

“Nigeria’s entire economy appears to have been sub-contracted 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!”

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