The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), yesterday, directed lenders to immediately discontinue the processing of Forms M for maize/ corn importation into the country.
In a circular posted on its website and signed by Director of Trade and Exchange Department, Dr. O.S. Nnaji, the apex bank directed lenders to submit a list of all the Forms M they have already registered for the purpose of importing maize/corn, on or before Wednesday, July 15.
The circular reads: “As part of efforts by the Central Bank of Nigeria to increase local production, stimulate a rapid economic recovery, safeguard rural livelihoods, and increase jobs which were lost as a result of the ongoing COVID- 19 pandemic, Authorised Dealers are hereby directed to discontinue the processing of Forms M for the importation of Maize/ Corn with immediate effect.
“All Authorised Dealers are hereby requested to submit the list of Forms M already registered for the importation of maize/corn using the attached format on or before the close of business on Wednesday, July 15, 2020.”
Analysts said that the development means that the CBN has added maize to its forex restriction list. The list, which originally had 41 food and non-food items on it when it was drawn up by the regulator in 2016, had lengthened to 43 items before yesterday’s announcement.
Last year, CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, while commenting on media reports, quoting President Muhammadu Buhari as saying that the country does not have money to import food, stated that more items will be added to the list to save foreign exchange.
He said that the move is an attempt to stop the importation of items that Nigeria has the capacity to produce, stressing that the country’s foreign reserves should not be wasted on importing food items.
Data obtained from the CBN, for instance, shows that the external reserves declined by $400 million in June to $36.20 billion. The reserves further dropped by $51 million to $36.13 billion between June 30 and July 9.
Analysts point out that the dwindling reserves have resulted in a weakening of the naira, especially on the parallel market.