Economic summit asks CBN to review 41 items barred from accessing FOREX

Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor
Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor

The 22nd edition of the Nigeria Economic Summit (NES#22) ended on Wednesday with a call on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to urgently review the 41 items barred from accessing foreign exchange (FOREX) window for their importation into the country.

In June 2015, the CBN classified the items as “Not Valid for Foreign Exchange”, on grounds that they could easily be produced in Nigeria, rather than spend the country’s reserves to import.

Some of the affected items include rice, cement, margarine, palm kernel, palm oil products, vegetable oils, meat and processed meat products, vegetables and process vegetable products, poultry, tomatoes/tomato paste, soap and cosmetics and clothes.

Other items include private airplanes/jets, Indian incense, tinned fish in sauce, cold rolled steel sheets, galvanized steel sheets, roofing sheets, wheelbarrows, head pans, metal boxes/containers, enamelware, steel drums and pipes, wire mesh, steel nails, wood particle boards and panels.

Equally affected were security and razor wire, wood particle and fibre boards and panels, wooden doors, furniture, toothpicks, glass/glassware, kitchen utensils, tableware, tiles (vitrified, ceramics), textiles, wooden fabrics, plastic/rubber products (polypropylene granules and cellophane wrappers.

At the end of the three-day summit, the technical sub-committee identified challenges and recommended solutions towards realizing the objective of the theme: “Made-In-Nigeria”.

Details of the recommendations contained in the final resolutions sent to President Muhammadu Buhari said 16 of the 41 items were primary inputs for producers’ of made in Nigeria products.

“We recommend the urgent review of the list of items excluded from accessing the FOREX market,” Co-Chair of Private Sector sub-committee, Lanre Akinbo, said.

The recommendations focused on five key areas, namely governance and economic environment; business environment; technology and Innovation; finance and behaviour and attitude.

Although the summit criticized fiscal and monetary policy misalignment, security, political and social tensions, it stressed the need for sure-footedness and clear communication of policies to engender investor and citizen confidence.

The summit proposed policy on public procurement of Made in Nigeria goods and services at national and sub-national levels through the articulation of a national development plan that defines the country’s developmental priorities, choices and paths.

While identifying issues on ease of doing business and cost of doing business, notably enabling legislation, infrastructure, etc, it recommended the full operation of the proposed Presidential Council on Ease of Doing Business by January 2017.

Some specific recommendations with timelines include immediate action on the Niger Delta crisis to boost oil production to increase government revenues; fast track the passage of Bills and amendments of Acts to improve our ease of doing business, and entrenchment of made in Nigeria preferences, choices in the country’s procurement practices.

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