Members of Nigeria’s organised private sector operators on Tuesday declared that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) must rethink its decision to banish some 41 items from those that could be imported through official foreign exchange sources.
They disclosed that the prohibition of these items by the apex bank was seriously hurting the manufacturing leading to the closure of many companies and the relocation of others from Nigeria to Ghana and other neighbouring countries.
Also, the policy has led to the refusal to repatriate over $10 billion held offshore by Nigerian businesses.
Representatives of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries (LCCI) National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) made these declarations in Abuja at a Stakeholders Dialogue on the Manufacturing Sector in Nigeria’, organised by NOIPolls and the Centre for the Study of the Economics of Africa (CSEA).
According to their submissions, about 272 manufactures are either ailing or have closed shop in the last few months, while thousands of jobs are being cut on a daily basis.
Director, Research and Advocacy, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr. Vincent Nwani noted that since CBN made the unilateral announcement both the organised private sector and his chamber has made several representations to the apex bank without they desired results.
“We did press releases; we did stakeholders engagement; we engaged with the CBN at all levels, at least three times; we met the directors twice–up to the CBN Governors on this same matter of the 41 items- giving them examples of product-by-product.
“There must be an urgent review of the CBN’s policy on the restriction of access to foreign exchange placed on 41 items, as about16 of the total items in the list, serve as critical raw materials for intermediate goods produced in Nigeria, especially as the country lack the capacity for optimal production of the items.”
Specifically, he said the ban on oil palm has led to the loss of about 100,000 jobs over the last couple of months, with major blue chip companies in Nigeria relocating to neighbouring countries; while the ban on glass and glassware has led to the loss of 80,000 jobs mainly in the pharmaceutical industry, as companies in this sector now find it difficult to package their products.
He said, “Local production of oil palm is put at about 600 metric tonnes annually, but the total demand of the country is put at about 1.8 million metric tonnes. Today, Presco Oil has orders of up to December 2017 to fill, it is presently hard pressed with demands. Listing oil palms among the restricted items meant that we have a shortfall of about 1.2 million metric tonnes.
“Some of the items placed on the restriction list by the CBN should be reinstated until the country develops the capacity to produce them locally. Some of the items need a period of between three and seven years for the country to develop self-sufficiency in their production.