Financial experts yesterday backed the Federal Government’s move to stop foreign exchange on food importation, saying it would boost the nation’s foreign reserve and local production of food items.
They told newsmen in Lagos that the policy, if properly implemented, would curb importation as well as protect value of the naira.
A professor of Economics, Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella, said that one of the ways to protect the value of the naira was to curb importation.
“This is a difficult time for the external sector of our economy and government must act to protect serious downward slide in the value of the naira.
“Oil price is going down again and the foreign reserve has started declining due to Central Bank of NIgeria (CBN) intervention in the forex market.
“One of the ways to protect the value of the naira is to curb importation. So the President was right in taking that decision,’’ Tella said.
He said that the policy would encourage and assure farmers that “if they increase their outputs, they can always find customers, which are good for the economy.
“Nigeria should have no business importing food in the 21st century if we had modernised agriculture in the last one or two decades, but we still see farmers carry cutlass and hoes to farm to produce food.
“Farmers in all areas, crops, animal husbandry, livestock, and even agro-allied industries should take advantage of this policy to unleash their potential and modernise their operations,’’ Tella said.
He, however, said that consumers would suffer in the immediate term because prices of food items would increase.
“But in the medium to long term, if the tempo of production activities to be generated is sustained, everyone will be better off.
“At least, we can be forced to consume what we produce,’’ Tella added
A chartered stockbroker and Chief Executive Officer, Sofunix Investment and Communications, Mr Sola Oni, said that philosophy of stopping food importation was to revolutionise agriculture, Nigeria’s hitherto economic life wire.
Oni, however, said that it requires a strong political will to implement such a policy.
He said that adequate infrastructure and incentives must be provided to encourage local production of such food items.
“The economics of the policy is to create employment opportunities locally and earn foreign exchange through exportation of such food items in the final analysis.
“The big elephant in the house is the usual issue of implementation. Nigeria has never lacked good policies but the strength of character to ensure implementation.
“It is hoped that policy will not be circumvented by rent seeking Nigerians who always have their way through top-level political network,’’ he said.
Oni said that he was in support as long as it would not cause extreme hardship.
He noted that the benefits of the policy outweigh challenges in the medium and long run if properly handled.
“Why must we import what we can produce, thereby depleting our external reserves,’’ he asked.
According to him, government should be sure that Nigeria has achieved food security.
“The policy can be done in phases to ease possible tension. It could be done in three to five years before full implementation,’’ Oni said.
President Buhari had, last Tuesday, directed the CBN to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food into the country.
According to him, the directive is to achieve steady improvement in agricultural production, and attainment of full food security.
Implementation Of Cashless Policy Is In Public Interest –Emefiele
The Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr Godwin Emefiele says the implementation of cashless policy in six states of the federation is in public interest to promote efficient payment system.
Emefiele stated this while fielding questions from journalists after the Monetary Policy Committee meeting held in Abuja, last Friday.
The CBN had, last Tuesday issued a circular to deposit banks to commence the implementation of the cashless policy in six pilot states across the country.
The apex bank directed that implementation should commence from Sept 18 in Lagos, Ogun, Kano, Abia, Anambra, and Rivers States, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
It, however, stated that the nationwide implementation of the cashless policy would take effect from March 31, 2020. The CBN explained that transactions will attract three per cent processing fees for withdrawal and two per cent processing fees for lodgement of amounts above N500, 000 for individual accounts.
Similarly, corporate accounts will attract five per cent processing fees for withdrawal and three per cent processing fee for lodgement of amounts above N3 million.
The CBN’s directive has, however, received knocks from many Nigerians.
Reacting, Emefiele said the policy was not new as it was inaugurated in the country in 2012 and implementation began in 2014 while several engagements were held across multiple stakeholders before its commencement.
He said withdrawal charges had been in place since then, only deposit charges were new now to some people though it was part of it from beginning but later withdrawn.
“The policy says if you deposit money in the bank above a particular threshold which for individual is N500,000 and N3 million for corporate bodies, then you will be charged, same for withdrawal.
“It has been like this but after stakeholders engagement, we agreed that it was too early to begin to charge people who want to deposit money in banks.
“We agreed at that time that they were a lot of cash outside the bank industry and there is no need to penalise the people who want to bring in their money to the banks and then we relaxed the essence of charging on deposit.
“We expected that after five years, that is from 2015 to 2019, all cash kept in peoples’ houses should have been brought to the banks,” he explained. He announced that full cashless policy would commence all over the country by March, 2020.
He stated that the policy was not designed to defranchise hard working Nigerians as perceived by some categories of people.
According to him, a data conducted, revealed that close to 95 per cent of cash deposited and withdrawn fall bellow this threshold.
SON Seeks Media Partnership Against Substandard Goods
The Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has solicited active working synergy with journalists and other stakeholders in the fight against substandard goods in the country.
The SON Coordinator in charge of Sokoto and Zamfara states, Mr Wanza Kussiy made the appeal in Sokoto, last Friday.
Kussiy emphasised the need for increased awareness for Nigerians to patronise quality products and services with required valuable standards.
He said SON had the mandate of safeguarding people’s lives through ensuring maximum quality of all categories of goods and services as well as rid the country of substandard goods.
According to the coordinator, fighting substandard goods and services should be collective responsibility of all Nigerians.
“ There is need for increased partnership between SON, law enforcement agencies, media professionals, governmental agencies, non-governmental organisations and community-based groups.
“ SON fights substandard goods to ensure quality assurance of products and services across the country” Kussiy said.
He said officials were always encouraged to provide conducive platforms on collaborations where all stakeholders could contribute toward achieving the mandate.
Kussiy cautioned people against demanding for cheap items, which he described as a dangerous way of encountering with counterfeit products.
He explained that SON had unified measures of certifying quality of products and services comprising imported ones and those produced within the country, and also issue out compliance certificates.
The coordinator urged people to report or register their complaint on items or services suspected to be of substandard quality for immediate action.
He stressed that the aim was to ensure that people obtained goods and services with maximum required value.
Xerox To Partner RSG On Information Management
A leading company in documents equipments and solutions, Xerox H.S Nigeria Limited has said that it would remain focused in providing the modern technology to drive excellence in documentation and information management in public service and the private sector.
General Manager Sales and Marketing of the company, Mr Femi Abidoye, disclosed this during a product exhibition of the company in Port Harcourt at the weekend.
He said the company was ready to partner with the Rivers State Government and other stakeholders in documentation and information management, to enhance productivity, “in the face of dynamic, ever changing technological advancement
“It is on record that Xerox has been visibly represented in Port Harcourt (Rivers State) for more than three decades now and their contributions in the state had altered the face of business and official transactions, from documents generation, storage, retrieval and archiving in daily corporate world of business,” he said.
Abidoye said the company has continued to blaze the trail in the changing phase of transaction in business, politics and social devices,adding that the exhibition was to showcase its latest innovations to the company’s customers in Rivers state.
Earlier, the Chairman of the occasion, Engr Benson Okwonu, had described Xerox as one of the top centres of business activities in Rivers State , Nigeria and the world at large, leading in documents equipment and solutions with wide range of modern technologies.
Okwonu who is the Executive Director, Engineering, Niger Delta Basin Development Authority (NDBDA) urged the company to maintain its pace in technological advancement and service delivery.
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