The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it will not fritter the nation’s scarce foreign exchange reserves on what would not boost its economy and generate jobs for fellow countrymen, in the post-COVID-19 era.
Godwin Emefiele, announced this against the backdrop of the gradual reopening of the nation’s economy after weeks of lockdown over the Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic during a virtual meeting with chief executives of conglomerates operating in the country at the weekend.
Urging industrial conglomerates operating in Nigeria to support efforts aimed at growing the economy and returning it to its glory days, the CBN boss warned that the apex bank will not support the importation of items that can be produced in the domestic economy.
Emefiele said the CBN, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s desire, was determined to return the Nigerian economy to the period when the manufacturing and agricultural sectors formed the base of the economy.
While acknowledging the challenge of low crude oil prices to major economies of the world, he expressed confidence that the price of crude will not remain at low levels for a long period.
The governor emphasized that the low crude oil prices were surmountable, he declared that Nigeria’s foreign reserves of about $37Billion remained robust to support the economy.
He, therefore, enjoined the conglomerates to key into the current administration’s drive of diversifying the base of the Nigerian economy by taking advantage of its large population to market their products, which he insisted could be produced in Nigeria and exported to the rest of the world.
The CBN, he assured, is willing to provide foreign exchange to companies that required such for raw materials and machinery that could not be obtained in Nigeria.
Furthermore, he said as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTFA) is now billed to commence in January 2021, Nigeria offers the companies immense opportunities to produce items and make huge profits through the Nigerian market, which he noted was large enough to support their respective businesses.
Stressing further on the need to prioritise the Nigerian market, the CBN Governor assured the companies of opportunities to collaborate with the relevant government agencies to nip smuggling in the bud, while also promising to protect their businesses to ensure they succeed in Nigeria.
Similarly, he assured the CEOs of the CBN’s willingness to collaborate with other fiscal authorities to improve on their ease of doing business in Nigeria, with a view to simplifying their import and export processes.
On the issue of Direct Foreign Investments (FDIs), Emefiele said the apex bank is not opposed to the conglomerates seeking alternative but legitimate sources of foreign exchange to boost their businesses, just as he said the CBN would not hinder the companies from repatriating their dividends.