The Central Bank of Nigeria CBN said it will continue to enforce the restriction placed on 41 items access to foreign exchange in the coming years. This is contained in the address of CBN Governor Mr. Godwin Emefiele at the Chartered Institute of Bankers’ dinner. According to Emefiele “the CBN intends to vigorously ensure that this policy remains in place, and additional efforts would be made to block any attempts by unscrupulous parties, both individuals and corporates, that intend to find other avenues of accessing forex, in order to import these items into Nigeria. The CBN’s Economic intelligence and Banking Supervision Departments will work very hard with the EFCC to expose and sanction any, bank, company or Fx operator that colludes with unscrupulous individuals / companies to undermine the policy on 41 items.
“Such sanctions will include, but not limited to prohibiting the banks from maintaining any bank accounts for such institutions or persons in Nigeria. Given the global and domestic headwinds we face as a nation, and the volatility that is being experienced in the crude oil market, we have no other option, as leaders interested in the progress of our nation, but to work very hard to spur job creation by reviving agricultural and industrial activities in the country. If we continue to support the growth of small holders farmers, as well as help to revive palm oil refineries, rice mills, cassava and tomato processing factories, you can only imagine the amount of wealth and jobs that will be created in the country.
“ These could include new set of small holders farmers that will be engaged in productive activities; new logistics companies that will transport raw materials to factories, and finished goods to the market; new storage centres that will be built to store locally produced goods; additional growth for our banks and financial institutions as they will be able to provide financial services to support these new businesses; and finally, the millions of Nigerians that will be employed in factories to support processing of goods. If we turn a blind eye to the opportunities that are being created as a result of our policy on 41 items, we will be spelling doom for our nation. We can no longer afford to depend solely on imports given the size of our population, and the need to create jobs for our people. This is precisely the purpose behind our intention to restrict access to forex on 41 items, and I urge all stakeholders to come onboard, as we intend to be vigorous in our pursuit of this objective.
“The Bank will explore the possibility of leveraging technology to enhance credit to critical sectors of the economy, especially, agriculture and manufacturing. Our recently announced policy to refund portions of CRR to banks that are financing new projects (or expanding existing ones) in agriculture and manufacturing sectors will be intensified and enriched in the coming years. This, we believe, will bolster job creation while supporting our agenda to correct Nigeria’s imbalances and vulnerabilities. As the monetary and fiscal authorities continue to work tirelessly to support the recovery of our economy, it is important to acknowledge some of Nigeria’s enduring strengths, which offer significant rewards for current and prospective foreign investors. Notwithstanding the impact of the recession, Nigeria’s economy remains the largest in Africa by the size of its GDP, with a very well diversified mix of opportunities across different sectors, such as ICT, Manufacturing, Solid Minerals, Trade and Agriculture.
“The Central Bank and indeed the Federal Government is open to foreign investors who are keen to support our efforts at unlocking the immense opportunities in our economy, knowing that it offers mutual gains to both the investors and the nation. Investors can be assured that their investments in Nigeria would be duly protected by the authorities, as we are fully aware of the various advantages they can provide to our economy in terms of capital and technological know-how. We hereby reaffirm our commitment to investors that Nigeria is indeed open for business.