CBN’s policy saves N217b from rice import
• Emefiele raises hope on interest rate cut
• Institute’s chief seeks improved human index
The capital control policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which excluded 41 items from accessing foreign exchange (forex) at the official window, saved the country N217 billion ($600 million) worth of forex in its first full year of implementation in 2016.
Besides, due to the dogged implementation of the restrictions, according to the bank, the country has also recorded spectacular improvements in domestic production of most of these items as at now.
CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who made the disclosure at the 2017 Bankers Dinner organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), in Lagos, last night, said there is a significant fall in imports of rice from several countries as at now.He said Nigeria’s biggest rice exporter- Thailand, lost 99 per cent patronage from 1.2 million metric tonnes to only 784 metric tonnes by the end of 2016, being the first full year of the enforcement of the policy.
On the other hand, this fall in imports have been largely filled by a boost in local rice production, as emerging producers like Labana Rice Mills in Kebbi State are trying to keep pace with demand, now processing 320 tonnes of a rice a day.
Also, from Kano State, UMZA rice has expanded its milling capacity substantially to the extent that with the recently recorded bumper paddy harvest, the company today takes delivery of over 100 trucks of paddy rice daily.
Meanwhile, the bank chief said with stability in the turn of events, the policy makers may soon begin to mull strategies to ease the 16-month old rate hold, in efforts to further accelerate the recovery process.Monetary policy stance, he said, could change when the fundamentals become supportive, adding that if the pace of disinflation becomes adequate and inflation at predicted levels, the policy committee would begin to see strong justification for an easing of monetary policy.
Similarly, the President of CIBN, Prof. Segun Ajibola, has urged the government to see that the improving economy does not end in numbers, but reflect on the well being of the citizens.The don, while delivering his address at the dinner, said the subsisting World Bank’s Human Development Index on the country does not speak well of the conditions of the citizens and the improving economic growth.
He admitted that there have been marked improvement in the macroeconomic landscape between 2016 and now, especially the successes in ease of doing and inflation, but said that more needs to be done.
For Emefiele, the optimism is high that inflation would return to very low double digit or high single digit levels next year, as the socio-economic factors that are driving food inflation are resolved, which would then help to reduce the challenges therein.
“Over the last 12 months, Nigeria’s reserves grew by over $10 billion from just over $23 billion in October 2016 to over $33 billion in October 2017. It is my belief that if we remain resolute with our efforts, policies and actions, we can attain position of about $40 billion by end 2018.
“As we entrench and sustain the transparency in the forex market, with reserves’ accretion continuing, and market confidence and improved sentiments remain, I expect the exchange rate to not only be stable, but would begin to appreciate against major currencies,” he said.
The banker said that the achievements are clearly verifiable successes and of government’s attempts to create jobs locally, improve the wealth of our rural population, improve industrial capacities and ultimately attain economic growth in Nigeria.
“Psaltry International Limited (PIL), an agro-allied manufacturing company based in Oyo, produces starch. Before the policy, it had few customers and plenty of backlogged inventory.
“Today, PIL boasts over 50 multinational clients, including Nestle and Unilever. The company has saved Nigeria $7 million in foreign exchange drawdown over the two years of the policy.“Baton Nigeria has also taken advantage of the policy and is now producing high- quality, competitive toothpicks that is 25 per cent cheaper than their Chinese competition.
“As part of the gains from the policy and in line with an agreement we reached with Unilever, the company, which left the country few years ago, will be commissioning a new Blue Band Factory in Agbara, Ogun State early next month,” he added.
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