CBN bans forex for textile importers as Emefiele speaks on ‘being sacked’

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The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on Tuesday directed commercial banks and bureaux de change, BDC, operators to stop sale of foreign exchange, forex, for the importation of textiles and clothing materials in the country.

Governor of the bank, Godwin Emefiele, announced this at a meeting with stakeholders in the cotton sector in Abuja, during which he dismissed claims in some quarters that he had been asked to proceed on terminal leave.

There had been speculations on that President Muhammadu Buhari had asked the apex bank governor to proceed on a three-month terminal leave which would ultimately lead to his exit from the apex bank.

Emefiele has been Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria since June 3, 2014. His appointment is for a period of five years which is renewable if the President so wishes.

But responding to enquiries from newsmen during the meeting he had with textile industry stakeholders in Abuja, Emefiele said there is no truth in such claims that he had proceeded on terminal leave, pointing out that his tenure expires in June.

While stressing that he would continue to perform his role in the interest of the economy, he said, “At least you can see me and you have seen my work. My tenure expires in June and at least let’s continue.

“The intervention programmes of the Central Bank of Nigeria has been on since 1978 and it has moved from governor to another governor and I am very optimistic that even if another governor comes, no right-thinking person will abandon an initiative that is laudable and meant to create jobs for the good of our country.”

Speaking on the forex restriction, Emefiele said the directive was borne out of the federal government’s plan to revive the textile sector and create employment for millions of Nigerians.

According to him, “The CBN hereby place the access to FX for all forms of textile materials on the FX restriction list. Accordingly, all FX dealers in Nigeria are to desist from granting any importer of textile material access to FX in the Nigerian Foreign exchange market.

“In addition, we shall adopt a range of other Strategies that will make it difficult for recalcitrant smugglers to operate banking business in Nigeria. The details of those strategies will be unfolded in due course.”

The CBN governor highlighted how Nigeria gained from the booming textile industry that was characteristic of the 1970’s and early 1980’s, narrating the effect of “rising operating cost and weak sales due to high energy cost, smuggling of textile goods, and poor access to finance.”

He said Nigeria currently spends above $4 billion annually on imported textiles and ready-made clothing with a potential market size well over $10bn annually.

Emefiele said with the new restriction, sourcing of FX for textile importation and even smuggling will be next to impossible, adding that this will “support the revival” of the sector.

He added that the bank will support local growers of cotton, provide stable electricity and build textile production centers across the country which will meet the needs of the entire value chain.

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