The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) may increase the items on the foreign exchange (forex) restriction list from 42 to 50 in order to boost local production and stimulate the export market.
This was disclosed by CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, after he spent over four hours touring the ongoing Dangote Refinery, Petrochemicals, Fertiliser projects and Dangote deep-water jetty in Lagos.
Emefiele toured the project sites in the company of the President/CE of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote; Deputy Governor of the CBN, Aishah Ahmad; Group Managing Director, Dangote Industries Limited, Mr. Olakunle Alake; Group Executive Director of Dangote Industries, Mr. Devakumar Edwin; and the Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank, Mr. Segun Agbaje.
Emefiele said the CBN would get more aggressive in ensuring that more items being imported into the country were added to the forex restriction list.
He premised his comment on the huge forex earnings expected to accrue from export of the petrochemical and fertiliser products from Dangote refinery and fertilizer plants by the time the fertilizer plant begins operations.
“To put it in proper perspective, by the time you dimension the size of the foreign exchange we use in importing petroleum products into the country, it is at least one third of the foreign exchange the CBN spends to import items into Nigeria today.
“By the time we add also the 42 items that we have, which certainly we are going to increase from 42 may be to 50 or more in due course because we are going to get more aggressive in ensuring that more and more food items that are being imported into this country are added into the FX restriction list.
“I am saying that by the time we add the savings from the production and export of petroleum products; by the time we also add the foreign exchange that we spend on food items, close to 55 or 60 per cent of what the CBN or what the government spends in funding its foreign exchange operations will be saved in the country,” he said.
Recall that the CBN had in recent years placed restriction on access to forex for 41 items in order support the production of goods that can be produced locally such as rice, tomatoes, and palm oil for domestic and the export market.
But in December 2018, the CBN included fertiliser, thereby increasing the items on the forex restriction list to 42.
The items include cement, margarine, meat and processed meat products, private airplanes/jets, roofing sheets, wooden doors, toothpicks, textiles, soap and cosmetics.
In his remarks, Dangote said the project would definitely transform the economy saying: “by the time we finish our fertiliser plant, Nigeria will be the largest exporter of fertiliser in Africa.
“We will also be the largest exporter of petrochemicals and the largest exporter of petroleum products in the whole of Africa. This is a major transformation.”