The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has lifted the restriction on 43 items which were barred from accessing foreign exchange via the official window by the Emefiele administration of the bank. At that time, the bank had reasoned that it was a waste of precious forex to expend it on goods that can easily be produced locally.
The list of such items include: ,rice, cement, margarine, palm kernel, palm oil products, vegetable oils, vegetables and processed vegetables, tinned fish in sauce Geisha/ Sardines, roofing sheets, metal boxes and containers, head pans, Wheelbarrows, meat and processed products, poultry and processed poultry products, cold rolle steel sheets, galvanized steel sheets, enamelware, steel pipes, steel drums , steel nails, wire mesh, wire rods(deformed and not deformed), iron rods, reinforcing bars, wood particle boards and panels, wooden doors, security and razor fencing and poles, wood fiberboards and panels, plywood boards and panels and tooth picks.
The other items on the list are: Glass and glassware, kitchen utensils, tableware, tile- vitrified and ceramic, gas cylinders, plastic and rubber products, woven fabrics, clothes, polypropylene granules, cellophane wrappers and bags,soap and cosmetics, tomatoes and tomato pastes, as well as Eurobond/foreign currency bond/ share purchases.
However, the bank has now reversed itself in this regard stating, “Importers of all the 43 items previously restricted by the 2015 Circular referenced TED/FEM/FPC/GEN/01/010 and its addendums are now allowed to purchase foreign exchange in the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market.”
It is noteworthy that the unbanning covers not only the original 2015 list but all the subsequent addendums.
The bank promised to continue to encourage and promote professional and orderly conduct by all participants in the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market to ensure marketforces determine exchange rates on a Willing Buyer – Willing Seller principle.
The CBN therefore reiterates that the prevailing Foreign Exchange (FX) rates should be referenced from platforms such as the CBN website, FMDQ, and other recognised or appointed trading systems to promote price discovery, transparency, and credibility in the FX rates.
Knowing the existing constraints and challenges and in order to ensure the workability of the bank’s new stance, the bank has committed not only to intervene in the forex market in the meantime until liquidity improves but also to speed up the process of clearing existing backlogs
” As part of its responsibility to ensure price stability, the CBN will boost liquidity in the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market by interventions from time to time. As market liquidityimproves, these CBN interventions will gradually decrease.
” The CBN is committed to accelerating efforts to clear the FX backlog with existing participants and will continue dialogue with stakeholders to address the issue.
“The CBN has set as one of its goals the attainment of a single FX market. Consultation is ongoing with market participants to achieve this goal.
The bank exhorted participants and the general public to be guided by the announcement.