The House of Representatives has summoned the Central Bank (CBN) Governor, Dr Olayemi Cardoso to appeal before it to justify the rationale for lifting ban on the importation of 43 items.
The Central Bank of Nigeria had lifted the foreign exchange restrictions it placed on importers of 43 items eight years ago.
The House decision to invite Cardoso to brief it on why the apex bank lifted the ban followed the adoption of amendments to a motion of urgent public importance, moved by Hon. Sada Soli (APC, Katsina) at plenary on Tuesday.
Moving the motion, Soli said CBN imposed the restrictions in June 2015 to conserve the foreign exchange reserves and promote local production of certain goods, including about 11 food items.
The lawmaker noted that some of the items have tariffs to protect local industries, as they are part of the imports prohibition list.
He said the decision of the CBN will greatly affect local production of items such as rice, cement, and palm oil among others, as it will force local manufacturers to “hold the short end of the stick, invariably leading to factory closure and ultimately eroding our capacity to build the country’s local economy.”
According to Soli: “Almost all the 43 items are from two critical sectors which have been identified by all policy documents from NEEDS, SEEDS to Vision 2022 as being areas that are critical to economic diversification.
“Some of the listed items enjoy 60%-70% subsidy from their countries of origin, thus putting Nigeria’s local products at a comparative disadvantage and without any protection, and will lead to job losses and social exclusion.
“The benefit of the cheaper imported inputs as stated by the CBN will give undue advantage to middlemen to drive the economy, which is inimical to our economic growth and not suitable to the current unified FOREX market in the country.”
The lawmaker expressed worry that Nigeria will not be competitive in the African Continental Free Trade Area if its markets are flooded with imported finished goods.
He noted that the decision followed the rising food inflation in the country which has significantly impacted the economy and the purchasing power of consumers in the country.
Soli said that, in reality, the lifting of the FOREX restriction on the importation of 43 items may not have a meaningful impact on the rising food inflation as a result of the soaring exchange rate.
The House referred the motion to the Committees on Finance, Customs, and Banking Regulation, mandating them to carry out the assignments within two weeks and report back for further