The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said it may increase the list of items excluded for funding from the official foreign exchange (forex) market as it seeks to reduce pressure on the naira and preserve the country’s external reserves.
CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, said this during an exclusive interview with newsmen in Lagos at the weekend.
The CBN recently restricted importers of 41 items from accessing forex at the official foreign exchange market. Some of the items include toothpicks, rice, wheel barrows, head pans, cement, margarine, palm kernel/vegetable oil, meat and processed meat products, vegetable and processed vegetable products, poultry, private airplanes/jet, Indian incense and tinned fish in sauce (Geisha/Sardines), among others.
The policy, according to the central bank, was also designed to facilitate the resuscitation of domestic industries and improve employment generation.
But some of the affected importers and members of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) have continued to kick against the policy.
But Emefiele said: “The truth is that as long as we find that there are more items that can be produced locally, I can assure you that we would increase the list.
“We are not saying that those 41 items cannot be imported, but we are saying that we don’t have the foreign exchange for you at the banks or at the interbank market for these.
He pointed out that before the central bank decided to place the items on the exclusion list, it carefully thought about them, did its research and came to the conclusion that the affected items could be produced in Nigeria.
“As long as we continue to import them, it would be difficult for our people to look inwards. We excluded them from the foreign exchange market so as to compel our people to look inwards.