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CBN explains denial of foreign exchange to rice importers

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The Central Bank of Nigeria on Friday explained its new policy of making public lists of goods and services items barred from for accessing foreign exchange in the Nigerian market for their imports.

The Bank’s Director of Trade and Exchange department, Olakanmi Gbadamosi, said the new policy was part of efforts at stabilising the foreign exchange market and stimulating local production of goods and services.

“It has become imperative to exclude importers of some goods and services from accessing foreign exchange at the Nigerian foreign exchange markets in order to encourage local production of these items,” Mr. Gbadamosi said.

“The implementation of the policy will help conserve foreign reserves as well as facilitate the resuscitation of domestic industries and employment generation,” he added.

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

Other items included private airplanes/jets, Indian incense, tinned fish in sauce (Geisha/sardines, 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.

The policy also covers security and razor wire, wood particle boards and panels, wood fibre Board and panels, Wood fibre Boards and panels, wooden doors, furnitures, toothpicks, glass/glassware, kitchen utensils, tableware, tiles (vitrified, ceramics), textiles, wooden fabrics, plastic/rubber products (polypropylene granules, cellophane wrappers, euro bond/foreign currency bond/share purchases.

Since the announcement of the new policy on Wednesday, speculations have been rife that the CBN had banned the importation of these items.

But in a statement Friday, the CBN clarified that the policy could not be misconstrued to mean the decision to ban the importation of these items.

“These items are not banned,” Mr. Gbadamosi declared. “Thus, importers desirous of importing these items shall do so using their own funds without any recourse to the Nigerian foreign exchange markets.”

Urging authorised dealers on these goods and services to ensure strict compliance, the director warned that defaulters would be sanctioned in line with the regulatory powers of the Bank.

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