By Ossom Raphael
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said that the forex restriction on 41 items was done in the interest of the country’s economy.
Delivering a keynote address titled “The Dilemma of Monetary Policy During a Recession: Potential Options for Nigeria”at the 57th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) held in Lagos, the Apex Bank Governor said the policy was meant to restructure the economy away from the present import-dependence and to create jobs for the teeming unemployed youth.
Emefiele, who explained that the policy was yielding the desired purpose, disclosed that the Bank has deployed various import-substitution strategies since 2014 in order to save the economy from collapse.
While taking the audience through recent economic history in which some countries, both in the Western hemisphere and Asia), had to apply similar measures to solve peculiar economic challenges.
According to him, countries such as South Korea used excessive stiff tariffs, quantitative restrictions and in the case of Taiwan, the government applied some non-tariff barriers to curtail imports into these countries.
The CBN Governor, in a similar vein, said that the United States of America banned the importation of more cost-effective generic drugs from Canada, just as taxi drivers in continental Europe have been fighting against use of more affordable Uber taxis from the USA.
Emefiele stated that given the challenges confronting the country such as falling GDP growth rate, rising inflation, persistently high interest rates, falling Foreign reserves and depreciating exchange rate, the CBN had to make the hard choice of introducing some ingenious measures by way of 41 items in which importers could not access Forex from the interbank market.
The Governor noted that the challenges confronting the country motivated the CBN to take decisions considered then as unpopular policy aimed at jump-starting agriculture and agribusiness, supporting the rebuilding of infrastructure and pursue non-oil exports. “The ability to make such hard choices”, according to him, “is the hallmark of leadership, which is not a popularity contest”.
He called on all Nigerians especially the members of the legal profession to forge a close relationship with regulators in the financial sector to design a legislative advocacy to ensure stability of the financial system