OPS To CBN: Engage stakeholders to review forex restriction on import

With the New Year in place and complaints still trailing access to foreign exchange (forex) for manufacturing, the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), a key member of the organised private sector, has advised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to have a robust engagement with stakeholders to review the over 40 items on its prohibition list in 2022.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, Dr. Muda Yusuf, in an interview with New Telegraph, emphasised that it was time for the apex bank to review the forex exclusion list of the over 40 items banned from accessing foreign exchange in the official window. Yusuf, a renowned economist and immediate past Director- General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), stated that some of the products on the list were intermediate products for some manufacturing firms and are posing challenges to manufacturing locally. He explained that the continued implementation of the CBN’s 41 items forex policy was resulting to many manufacturing firms facing difficulties in accessing forex at the inter-bank window amid forex scarcity.

This, he said, had, consequently, taken a toll on their investments and factory operations. He said: “In the bid to reduce the pressure on foreign reserves, CBN had excluded over 40 items from access to foreign exchange in the official window. Some of the products on this list are intermediate products for some manufacturing firms.

“This had some degree of negative effects on some manufacturing firms. It would be advisable for CBN to have a robust engagement with the stakeholders to review this list.” The former LCCI DG added that there was no doubts that a lot of local manufacturers were feeling the pains on some of the key items included in the forex exclusion list of CBN, which ought to have be removed. He said the insistence of the apex bank not to review it was affecting manufacturing and capacity utilisation in the country. Yusuf said: “For instance, some of the 41 items excluded from CBN’s forex funding are critical ingredients of production for some manufacturers and, presently, they import such items at the rate of N525 per dollar rate.” In the wake of decline in the prices of crude oil at the international market in 2015, the country’s apex bank rolled out the ban on the 41 items from accessing forex at the official window rate.

While defending the decision, the Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, said although the policy was restrictive of trade, he explained that it was necessary to protect the economy from the importation of items that could dampen local production and economic growth. According to him, the implementation of forex policy to restrict importers of certain items access to foreign exchange from the country’s forex market led to improvements in the domestic production of those items and a reduction in Nigeria’s import bill. The 41 items prohibition list include rice, cement, margarine, palm kernel, palm oil products, vegetable oils, meat and processed meat products, vegetables and processed vegetable products. Others are poultry, including chicken, eggs, turkey, private airplanes/jets, Indian incense, tinned fish in sauce (sardines), cold rolled steel sheets, roofing sheets, wheelbarrows, head pans, metal boxes and containers, enamelware, steel drums, steel pipes, wire rods (deformed and not deformed), iron rods and reinforcing bars, wire mesh, steel nails, security and razor wire, wood particle boards and panels, wood fiber boards and panels and wooden doors. It also include furniture, toothpaste, glass and glassware, kitchen utensils, tableware, tiles, (vitrified and ceramic), textiles, woven fabrics, clothes, plastic and rubber products, polypropylene granules, cellophane wrappers, soap and cosmetics, tomatoes/ tomato pastes.




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