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    Saturday, August 17, 2019

    Forex Restriction on Food Importation: MAN Urges FG to be Specific

    The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has urged clarification over President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive on restriction of foreign exchange for food importation. Director-General of MAN, Mr. Segun Ajayi-Kadir disclosed this yesterday in Lagos.

    Recall that President Buhari gave the directive on restriction of foreign exchange for food importation when he hosted the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors at his country home in Daura, Katsina State during Eid-el-Kabir on August 13.The President said the foreign reserve would be used strictly for diversification of the economy and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food.

    Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) wishes to not only acknowledge the initiative but also raise salient issues on the implication of the directive. Clearly the objective of Mr. President is noble. The directive, we understand, is aimed at consolidating the progress made towards food sufficiency, conserving our foreign exchange and encouraging consumption of locally produced food.

    In a press statement endorsed by Segun Ajayi-Kadir, Director General of MAN stated the Position of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria on President Buhari’s Directive to CBN On Forex Restriction For Food Importation.

    As you are aware, MAN actively supports resource-based industrialization, and this is based on our position that we should significantly improve our local sourcing of raw materials and develop sustainable value chains. We believe that value addition to products creates more jobs and wealth for the Nation.

    Our mantra is clearly harped on patronage of made in Nigeria products as we believe the country can only experience development when we buy what we produce and produce what we consume. On several occasions, we have engaged the government to provide support for local manufacturers who have embraced backward integration in the course of manufacturing with records revealing the positive impact on the agricultural sector. Without mincing words, MAN is for local sourcing of raw materials and production, patronage of locally produced goods and the general growth and development of the manufacturing sector of the country.

    Ajayi-Kadir said a close examination of the directive reveals that it is broad and would have to be both specific and targeted. These should also be strategic implementation to achieve the purpose intended by government. For instance, we need to know what type of food, finished and ready to eat? or as input for further processing? In the case of the latter (in particular) we need to know the local capacity available compared to national demand and if not adequate, creditably determine what time and resources are needed to ramp up capacity and production. It is pertinent to pre-determine these suggestions as part of the implementation strategy. To achieve sustainable self-sufficiency, local producers ought to be incentivized otherwise we may be inviting a looming barrage of smuggling activities.

    He also noted that we are not necessarily worried about the directive and we prefer to see it as an expression of Mr. President’s mindset. We are sure Mr President is aware of the independence of the CBN and that such policies may be counterproductive if implemented by fiat, without ensuring necessary alignment with the fiscal policy and other economic policy initiatives of this administration. The necessary support that would sustain the “steady progress in agricultural production” and attainment of “full food security”, for instance, would have to be considered. On the matter at hand, what is needed is clarity.

    “The Apex bank will have to do an assessment of where we are in practical terms and realistically weigh its options before embarking on such a far-reaching policy. There should also be a process to be followed before such a plan is unfolded. On an issue as critical as this, a unilateral decision could be counterproductive when the operators are not duly consulted. We must consider the state of our infrastructure and its capacity to respond and support the policy.

    So, though laudable, clarity is needed and we have to be deliberate and strategic in pursuing such a far-reaching monetary measure, especially in the light of our vulnerability occasioned by trade agreements that require the country to be more open to imports and the well-known antics of our neighboring countries, he concluded.
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