We’ll reduce dependence on imported items – Emefiele

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The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, has said that Nigeria will continue to implement policies that will reduce the importation of goods that can be produced locally.

He said this while making a presentation titled, ‘Against the tide: Nigeria’s  heterodox monetary policy and the Bretton Woods consensus’, at the distinguished leadership programme lecture series, of the University of Ibadan, Oyo State on Friday.

Emefiele said, “Our targeted focus on the agricultural and industrial sectors were driven by the vast opportunities for growth in these sectors, given our high population. It was also instrumental in taking Nigeria out of the recession. In 2017, over 50 per cent of the contributions to Gross Domestic Product growth came from the agriculture and industrial sectors.

“These sectors have the ability to absorb the growing labour pool of eligible workers in our effort to meet the household consumption needs of the Nigerian populace. If efforts were made to improve productivity gains in these sectors, it will reduce our dependence on imported items that could be produced in Nigeria.”

In a bid to contain rising inflation and to cushion the impact of the drop in foreign exchange supply on the Nigerian economy, he said the monetary and fiscal authorities took extraordinary measures to tackle these extraordinary challenges.

According to him, some of the measures that the bank took were unconventional.

In conserving the country’s forex, he said, “We introduced demand management approaches to conserve our reserves and support domestic production of certain goods in Nigeria.

“In this regard, we analysed our import bill, and encouraged manufacturers to consider local options in sourcing their raw materials, by restricting access to foreign exchange on 41 items (now increased to 43). Four of these items alone constitute over N1tn of our annual import bill.”

To boost development finance intervention, he said the CBN increased its lending to the agricultural and industrial sectors, through targeted intervention schemes such as the Anchor Borrowers Programme, Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme and the Real Sector Support Facility.

“In particular, we sought to improve domestic supply of four commodities (rice, fish, sugar, and wheat), which consume about N1.3tn annually in our nation’s import bill,”  he said.

The Vice- Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Prof Abel Olayinka, said the different intervention schemes by the CBN had helped to boost agriculture and stimulated domestic production.

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