The House of Representatives has taken a significant step by calling on the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Yemi Cardoso, and other key stakeholders to appear before them for questioning regarding the recent decision to lift restrictions on 43 items from accessing foreign exchange.
The recent move by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to remove foreign exchange restrictions on importers of 43 items, which had been in place for eight years, stirred concerns within the legislative chamber.
The resolution to summon the CBN governor was passed during the plenary session on Tuesday, following the introduction of a motion of Urgent Public Importance by Sada Soli, a lawmaker from Katsina.
Soli underscored that the CBN had initially imposed restrictions in June 2015 with the aim of safeguarding foreign exchange reserves and stimulating the domestic production of approximately 11 food items. However, the apex bank’s announcement on October 12, 2023, revealed the removal of foreign exchange restrictions on the 43 items.
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The lawmaker expressed deep concerns about the impact of this decision, particularly on the local production of items such as rice, cement, and palm oil. He warned that this move could force local manufacturers into unfavorable positions, potentially leading to factory closures and a decline in the country’s local economy.
Soli emphasized the significance of the 43 items, stating that these products play a vital role in the diversification of Nigeria’s economy, and removing the restrictions could have severe consequences. Some of these items benefit from substantial subsidies from their countries of origin, putting Nigerian products at a comparative disadvantage, potentially leading to job losses and social exclusion.
The central bank’s recent circular, dated October 12, 2023, announced the removal of restrictions on the 43 items imposed during the tenure of Godwin Emefiele as CBN Governor. This move is expected to increase liquidity in the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market and reflects the CBN’s commitment to a market-driven exchange rate system with a “Willing Buyer – Willing Seller” approach. This change is expected to impact various sectors of the economy and will be further discussed during the summoned appearance of CBN Governor Yemi Cardoso and relevant stakeholders before the House of Representatives.
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