The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, said on Wednesday it was not considering any review of 41 items affected by the policy on restriction of access to foreign exchange through the official window for imports.
The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, stated this in his keynote address to the opening session of the 24th annual seminar for Business Editors and Finance Correspondents in Awka, Anambra State.
The governor was represented by the acting director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, at the seminar which had the theme: “Import Substitution and the Dynamics of Interest and Exchange Rates Management in Nigeria.”
“The CBN is not thinking about reviewing the policy or removing any of the 41 items on the list. We had the choice of allowing the Naira to have crashed to over N1000 to the dollar. But, we chose to prioritize our area of need in our economy as a nation,” Mr. Emefiele said.
He said when the FOREX restriction policy was introduced in 2015, the country was facing the most difficult time in its economic history, following the collapse of the commodity prices, unprecedented foreign exchange crunch, depleting foreign reserve and highly devalued Naira.
To manage the excessive demand for foreign exchange, Mr. Emefiele said it became imperative to adopt a policy that prioritised the supply of dollars to critical sectors of the economy to provide inputs to keep production.
He underlined the need to establish appropriate structures to support robust domestic production, with imports used to supplement shortfalls of inputs or final products.
To achieve this objective, the CBN governor said government focused on the development of key industries as driving forces to sustainable development for the country’s economy.
Some of the industries include the three petrochemical plants, the Ajaokuta steel, Delta steel, Itakpe iron ore plants, metal and tools in Oshogbo, among others, in addition to cottage industries.
He said the introduction of the flexible foreign exchange regime, with FOREX restrictions on the importation of 41 items, became inevitable to curtail fast depleting foreign reserves, as a result of significant demand for imports in Nigeria.