Economic and public policy analysts call on CBN to abandon policy on forex restriction on food items

Regulatory conversation

Economic and public policy analysts have called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to abandon its new policy directive to restrict foreign exchange on certain imported food items, saying the policy is not beneficial to the masses.

The experts who spoke at the fourth annual regulatory conversation, with the theme ‘Foreign Exchange Restrictions on Food Imports and Implications for Regulating and Growing the Nation’s Economy’, adviced the CBN to slow down on its implementation of restriction of foreign exchange to milk importers.

The group advocated for the CBN to consult with industry stakeholders in order to find a way to harmonise the issue.

The Director, The Convention on Business Intergrity, Mr Olusoji Apampa, said though the forex restriction aimed to create more local jobs and save forex, it was accentuating pain for the poor without palliative or remedy.

He added that the forex restriction also created super profits for special interest groups suspected to have captured the regulator.

Apampa said that the forex ban would lead to a situation where dairy companies would start regressing with their value chain.

He said that the problem for industry would not be solved in the short- to medium term and costs would have to be passed on to consumers.

The Director did, however, note that the forex ban would lead to a reduction in the farmer/herder clashes, and in improvement in the market access for herdsmen, as well as creation of more jobs locally, and savings on forex.

The Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Muda Yusuf, said the restriction of forex on milk imports was a “game of forex.”

“We have a situation whereby the CBN has taken over the matters of our trade markets. It is a major problem and it is causing great disruption.

“The policy is a game on forex and we should let it go. The CBN is even telling us that more items will come on that list,” he added.

The panelists at the symposium included Frank Aigbogun, Publisher of BusinessDay; Olusoji Apampa, Director and Consultant for the Convention on Business Integrity; Muda Yusuf, Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI); Prof. Pat Utomi, founder of Centre for Values in Leadership; Oluwasegun Oshindipe, member of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN); Sussy Onwuka, official of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and Olufemi Awoyemi, Chairman of Proshare and moderator of the discussion.

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