Economy

President Buhari directs CBN to stop giving forex for food imports

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday directed the central bank to stop issuing foreign exchange for food and fertiliser imports, according to a statement by his spokesman.

It follows a similar order the president issued last year that the nominally-independent bank only partly followed, with some food importers still receiving foreign exchange.

But Thursday’s directive will completely ban providing foreign currency for all imported food and fertiliser, the spokesman told Reuters. “Nobody importing food should be given money,” Buhari said.

Also, President Buhari warned on his official Twitter handle : “I am restating it that nobody importing food or fertilizer should be given foreign exchange from the Central Bank. We will not pay a kobo of our foreign reserves to import food or fertilizer. We will instead empower local farmers and producers.

“We have a lot of able-bodied young people willing to work, and agriculture is the answer”, he emphasised.

Since his election in 2015, Buhari has sought to cut foreign imports, particularly agricultural products. Expanding Nigeria’s farm sector is a key pillar of his economic policy.

But the bans on imports like rice have seen prices surge, sparking widespread frustration.

Nigeria’s foreign reserves have been battered as the central bank spends billions of dollars on costly programmes such as propping up the local naira currency despite double-digit inflation.

There was no immediate, public reaction from the central bank to Buhari’s comments, though its governor was present at the meeting where the order was given.

About the author

Joseph Chukwuma Oputa

Joseph Chukwuma Oputa is the Managing Editor of Maslow Businessnews and Physicians News publications published by Maslow Business News Publications, Lagos, Nigeria.

Joseph Oputa is a proud Alumnus of the prestigious Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos and Federal Polytechnic, Bida, Niger State.

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