The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has expressed concern over the directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to withdraw foreign exchange for food importation.
The Director-General of NECA, Timothy Olawale, warned that there would be unprecedented smuggling of food products
Speaking to reporters in Lagos, Olawale noted that although the directive might be well intended, it left much to be desired in the absence of a buffer time for adjustment.
He opined that Nigeria currently lacks the capacity to meet its local food demand and the demand that will be created as a result of the directive will be through smuggling.
He said that given the fact that Nigeria recently signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) intended to open up the borders, smuggling would become the order of the day.
”With the recently signed AfCFTA, Nigeria will further create a thriving market for other countries and will remain a dumping ground for imported goods.”
He said the implication of a ‘knee-jack’ action, was that “a wholesale immediate withdrawal of FOREX” without giving a buffer period for businesses to adjust and source for alternatives would boost smuggling activities.
”This will have serious consequences for the economy.
“But we commend the president and indeed, the Federal Government for the numerous efforts at ensuring food sufficiency in the country and protecting local farmers.”
The director-general said that the withdrawal of forex would decapitate businesses leading to loss of jobs and relocation of some businesses to neighbouring countries where they could without hindrance, bring the products to Nigeria under the cover of AfCFTA.
He said that the timing of the policy called for concern and that with consistent support and policy stability, local food production might meet demands and also provide foreign exchange through exports.