•$10bn trapped overseas due to doubtful policies —LCCI
For concealing and failing to remit to the Treasury Single Account a total of $2.1 billion belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has barred nine banks from all foreign exchange transactions.
The dollar funds were supposed to be remitted into the federal government’s TSA domiciled in the CBN as directed by the presidency last year.
According to a CBN source, the banks’ suspension would remain in force until the total amount was remitted by them.
The source added that further disciplinary actions awaited the erring banks after remitting the funds in full to the government’s coffers.
Only last month the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) queried three banks for violating the Treasury Single Accounts (TSA) guidelines by concealing funds belonging to Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government.
There have been speculations that some MDAs are circumventing the TSA guidelines by operating accounts with banks, even as it is believed that such violations were aided by banks who agree to use pseudonyms to open accounts for the MDAs.
In another development, Dr Vincent Nwani, Director, Research and Advocacy, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), on Tuesday, said Nigerian businessmen had refused to repatriate about 10 billion dollars back to the country, citing “unfavourable domestic policies.”
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Nwani said this at a stakeholders’ dialogue on the manufacturing sector in Nigeria in Abuja.
He, therefore, called for an urgent review of the policies such as restriction of 41 items from access to foreign exchange and high interest rate affecting businesses in the country.
According to the LCCI boss, about 16 of the 41 items on the restriction list were critical raw materials for intermediate goods produced in Nigeria.
“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.
“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.
“Local production of oil palm is 600 metric tonnes annually, but the total demand of the country is 1.8 million metric tonnes,” Nwani told the forum, organised by NOI poll.
He added that Presco Oil currently had orders of up to December 2017 to fill, adding that it was presently hard-pressed with demands.
The LCCI boss said that listing oil palm among the restricted items meant that the country had a shortfall of about 1.2 million metric tonnes.
According to Nwani, some of the items placed on the restriction list by the CBN should be reinstated until the country developed 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.
“For instance, it takes a minimum of five years for oil palm to be planted and for harvest. The CBN should have given us more time.
“The manufacturing and industrial sectors lost about N1.4 trillion as a result of forex issues, while about 780 raw materials needed by the sector were affected by the restrictions placed by the CBN,” he added.
He called on government to ensure implementation of policies that would help the manufacturing sector in job creation and economic development.