When the Central Bank of Nigeria, precisely on the 12th of October 2023, announced that it had lifted the ban on the issuance of forex for the importation of rice, vegetable oil, and poultry products among other 43 items, many Nigerians took a deep breath of relief.
At least, they believe that the pronouncement will drive down the price of rice (the commonest food consumed by Nigerians) which has gone as high as N52, 000 per bag (depending on the quality), as at the time the forex ban was lifted.
The Central Bank of Nigeria had lifted the ban on importers of 43 items restricted from accessing foreign exchange on its official platform.
The Apex bank disclosed this in a statement titled: “CBN restates commitment to boost liquidity in forex market”, signed by the Director of Corporate Communications, Isa AbdulMumin, on Thursday.
“Importers of all the 43 items previously restricted by the 2015 circular referenced TED/FEM/FPC/GEN/01/010, and its addendums are now allowed to purchase foreign exchange in the Nigerian foreign exchange market,” the statement said.
The apex bank said it would continue to promote orderliness and professional conduct by all Nigerian foreign exchange market participants to ensure market forces determined exchange rates on a willing buyer – willing seller principle.
It added that “The CBN reiterates that the prevailing foreign exchange rates should be referenced from platforms such as the CBN website, FMDQ, and other recognized or appointed trading systems to promote price discovery, transparency, and credibility in the FX rates.
“As part of its responsibility to ensure price stability, the CBN will boost liquidity in the Nigerian foreign exchange market by interventions from time to time. As market liquidity improves, these CBN interventions will gradually decrease.”
The statement said the CBN was committed to accelerating efforts to clear the FX backlog with existing participants and would continue dialogue with stakeholders to address the issue.
It stated, “The CBN has set as one of its goals the attainment of a single FX market. Consultation is ongoing with market participants to achieve this goal. Participants and the general public are to be guided by the above.”
However, many maritime practitioners are saying that the new move by the apex bank may be of little or no consequence to the sector, if the issues of the exchange rate are not promptly addressed.
Source: The Punch