Agricultural sector investors, who are also members of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), have called on the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, to midwife the reversal of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s forex policy that has affected crude palm oil importation.
The CBN had included crude palm oil on the ‘not valid for forex list’ and the manufacturers are lamenting that the policy poses serious constraint on the importation of one of their most important raw materials.
MAN President, Dr. Frank Jacobs, in a statement last week, appealed that the CBN makes forex available to genuine manufacturers that rely on crude palm oil as a major raw material for production of noodles, biscuits, and cosmetics, among other products.
According to him, the CBN forex policy is threatening the survival of several manufacturers that rely heavily on crude palm oil as a major raw material for production and may lead to job loss if the companies close shop.
Some of the affected companies, Jacobs said, had been involved in the country’s agricultural sector as part of its backward integration programme, thereby creating more jobs and boosting beverage and cosmetic production, among others.
The MAN president commended government’s support for the local industry through the backward integration policy but warned that certain indices must be taken into consideration before the full implementation of such a policy.
He explained that while the policy was a welcome development, there should be no sudden obstruction to importation of the raw materials that are needed for local production, especially when the demand for such raw materials cannot be met locally.
Many stakeholders in the organised private sector have complained that the CBN policy restricting forex supply to importers of select items, intended to preserve the value of the Naira, is hurting the economy and negatively impacting on port operation.
The CBN on Tuesday June 23, this year officially stopped the sale of dollars for a list of 41 items, in its quest to reduce the pressure on the Naira as well as preserve the country’s external reserves.
The affected items include rice, cement, margarine, palm kernel/palm oil products/vegetable oil, meat and processed meat products, vegetable and processed vegetable products, poultry –chicken, eggs, turkey – private airplanes/jet, Indian incense, tinned fish in sauce – Geisha/Sardines, cold rolled steel sheet and galvanised steel sheets.
Others are roofing sheets, wheel barrows, head pans, metal boxes and containers, enamelware, steel drums, steel pipes, wires, rods, wire mesh, steel nails, security and razor wire, wood particles boards and panels, wood fibre board and panels, plywood boards and wooden doors.
In addition, sourcing of forex for the importation of toothpicks, glass and glassware, kitchen utensils, tables, textiles, woven fabrics, clothes, plastic and rubber products, soap and cosmetic, tomatoes/tomato paste and Eurobond/foreign currency bond/share purchase was prohibited.
By Pita Ochai