Economists Tell CBN To Review Forex Ban On 40 Items
An economic think-tank, the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), has advised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to review its ban on some of the over 40 items which the regulator has stopped importers from accessing foreign exchange to bring into the country.
Economists at the centre also said there was a need for the CBN to review its foreign exchange policy in 2022 with a view to improving dollar liquidity in order to rescue the ailing naira and help industries to grow.
The group disclosed this in its economic and business environment review for 2021 and agenda for 2022, a copy of which was obtained by The Tide.
According to the CPPE, there is a need for the CBN to engage stakeholders as its current forex policy regime is negatively affecting investors, manufacturers and other stakeholders.
The CPPE said, “In the bid to reduce the pressure on foreign reserves, the CBN had excluded over 40 items from access to foreign exchange in the official window.
“Some of the products on this list are intermediate products for some manufacturing firms which have negatively impacted some manufacturers. It would be advisable for the CBN to have a robust engagement with the stakeholders to review this list in the New Year”.
It advised the CBN to adopt a flexible exchange rate policy regime, and allow the pricing mechanisms to reflect the demand and supply fundamentals in the foreign exchange market.
It said, “Our proposition is that we should adopt a flexible exchange rate policy regime. We would like to clarify that this is not a devaluation proposition.
“Rather, it is a pricing mechanism that reflects the demand and supply fundamentals in the foreign exchange market. It is a model that is sustainable, predictable and transparent. It is a policy regime that would reduce uncertainty and inspire the confidence of investors.
“It is a policy framework that would minimise discretion and arbitrage in the foreign exchange allocation mechanism. A flexible exchange rate regime is a policy choice adopted to cope with changing demand and supply conditions in the forex market”.
According to the centre, adopting a market rate would deepen the autonomous foreign exchange market by liberalising inflows from export proceeds, diaspora remittances, multinational companies, donor agencies, diplomatic missions, and others.
It added that a flexible exchange rate would enhance liquidity in the forex market, increase investors’ confidence, and ensure a more transparent model for forex allocation.
Also, the CPPE said the Cash Reserves Requirements imposed on Nigerian banks by the CBN is one of the highest globally, adding that it is a major impediment to financial intermediation by banks.
According to the organisation, some of the banks have a CRR of 50 per cent and more against the official CRR of 27.5 per cent.
It said, “Yet, financial intermediation is supposed to be the major function and essence of the banking system. The high CRR has made it difficult for the banks to play their primary role of financial intermediation. Their profitability is also adversely impacted because of limited room for credit creation activities.
“Indeed, the ways and means finances of the apex bank pose greater liquidity risk to the economy than bank deposits. We therefore seek a reduction in CRR so that the banks can be better placed to play their primary role of financial intermediation in the economy”.
The CPPE blamed the rising inflation in the country on challenges of infrastructure, rising insecurity, climate change, low productivity in agriculture, monetisation of fiscal deficit, and depreciation of the naira.
Infrastructure Deficit, Insecurity, Limit Maritime Contribution To GDP – Expert
A Maritime stake holder, and Chairman of Sifax Group, Taiwo Afolabi, has attributed maritime industry’s minimal contribution to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to infrastructure deficit, insecurity on the nation’s waterways, low level of technology adoption, and deployment in the sector.
Afolabi made this known at the 5th Taiwo Afolabi Annual Maritime (TAAM) conference organised by the Maritime Forum of the faculty of law, University of Lagos.
Afolabi noted that other hindrances are foreign exchange bottleneck and inconsistent policies.
“These have limited the ability of the sector to contribute significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product GDP.
“If well harnessed, the maritime industry has the potential to become a major revenue earner for the country, particularly with the declining oil revenue.
“The lessons of the last few years as a nation should not be lost on us. The non-oil sector is increasingly becoming the mainstay of the country’s economy. We have funded our national budget in the last few years majorly without proceeds from oil but from other sectors.
“The days of our over reliance on oil is behind us now and it’s about time we focused on transitioning from an oil-dependent economy to non-oil reliance.
“The maritime sector, I can say without any fear of contradiction, will play a crucial role in this economic transitioning if more attention is committed to the industry.
“Judging by the potentials of the industry, we are of the opinion and belief that Nigeria’s maritime industry can rank among the best in the world.
“It will only take careful planning, progressive policies, generous funding, enabling environment, friendly economic policies, manpower development and massive infrastructural development”, he noted.
Loans Repayment Default: DMO Exonerates Nigeria
The Debt Management Office (DMO) has refuted the claim by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) that Nigeria has defaulted in repaying its Chinese loans.
SERAP had in an earlier statement hailed the judgement that ordered the present regime led by President Muhammadu Buhari to account for how it spent $460 million obtained from China to fund the Abuja Closed-Circuit Television project which later was not implemented.
The NGO also quoted a report in its statement saying “Nigeria has failed to repay loans for which penalties stand at N41.31bn”.
But DMO in its refuttal said the statement is ‘false’ as Nigeria has not defaulted in its loan repayment.
It said, “Nigeria is fully committed to housing its debt obligations and has not defaulted on any of its debt service obligations”, DMO said on Monday.
SERAP had sued the Federal Government following a 2019 disclosure by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed that “Nigeria was servicing the loan”, adding that she had “no explanations on the status of the project”.
She reportedly said, “We are servicing the loan. I have no information on the status of the CCTV project”.
Giving his judgement, Justice Nwite agreed with SERAP that “there is a reasonable cause of action against the government. Accounting for the spending of the $460 million Chinese loan is in the interest of the public. It will be inimical for the court to refuse SERAP’s application for judicial review of the government’s action”.
The presiding justice also said the Minister of Finance is in charge of the finance of the country and “cannot by any stretch of imagination be oblivious of the amount of money paid to the contractors for the Abuja CCTV contract and the money meant for the construction of the headquarters of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB)”, SERAP said.
CBN Names Four Firms To Print Cheques
Nigeria’s apex banking institution, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has named four local firms for the printing of cheques, excluding the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company (NPSMC) PLC.
The list of the approved firms for the printing of cheques was contained in a circular issued by CBN.
The circular, which was signed by the Director of Banking Services, Sam Okojere, said the approved firms include Superflux International Limited, Tripple Gee and Company, Yaliam Press Limited, and Marvelous Mike Press.
“The re-accreditation of Cheques Printers and Cheque Personalisers is in line with the relevant qualification criteria”, CBN stated.
The circular also revealed that seven banks were approved as personalisers of cheques: they are Zenith Bank Plc, Ecobank Plc, First Bank Ltd, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Keystone Bank Ltd, Providus Bank Ltd and Wema Bank Plc.
It further disclosed that all accredited printers and personalisers had been duly notified and certificates issued.
The Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company Plc is the sole printer of N200, N500, and N1000 new notes.
Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company Plc and Euphoria Group Limited were accredited and approved on Thursday, 04 December 2014, in a letter REF: BPS/DIR/GEN/CIR/02/033.
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