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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will blacklist from the foreign exchange market and the banking industry anyone or firm caught smuggling or dumping any of the 43 items restricted from accessing foreign exchange into the country.
This follows a presidential order which further gives impetus to the aggressive implementation of that policy which holds promises for jobs and economic boost
Governor Godwin Emefiele announced this in Abuja on Friday at a meeting the CBN held with stakeholders of the palm oil industry as part of efforts to promote the development of that sector’s value chain.
The presidential directive that we received says that we must expand, seek to give support to people who want to expand the production of these products in Nigeria. Another part of that presidential directive says that we should blacklist from the foreign exchange market and the banking industry, all firms, their owners and their top management caught smuggling or dumping any of the restricted 43 items into Nigeria,” Emefiele warned at the meeting.
“The presidential directive that we have received is not for palm oil alone, we have received presidential directive to focus on the
production of ten different commodities to be embarked on in the next couple of years, the products include: rice, maize, cassava, tomatoes, cotton, the entire textile value chain, oil palm, poultry, fish, livestock dairy and cocoa,” then governor stressed.
Emefiele continued to insist that there is no going back on the rules against those restricted items, which now include all forms of textiles and palm oil, having gradually expanded to 43 since 2015 when that policy was first announced.
“We are going to work very aggressively on this mandate,” the governor maintained. He announced that the CBN economic intelligence department had started investigating the accounts of those who are involved in smuggling or dumping palm oil and the other restricted commodities into Nigeria.
He told the palm oil stakeholders that the meeting was therefore to give them some heads-up and to show that government meant its words on the policy.
“We have the names of those bringing in these products and we feel that before any action is taken against you, in terms of blocking you from the foreign exchange market or blacklisting you from doing banking in Nigeria, we must invite you to say that we are drawing a line that importation of palm oil in Nigeria must stop,” the governor stated.
“Stopping it also means that we as central bank and the deposit money banks will create an opportunity for you to access credit to grow your plantations, but we will not allow any further importation of palm oil into Nigeria, we must create jobs in our rural communities.”
He said aside from supporting those who are interested in the industrial production, the CBN will also be supporting with its outgrower schemes, to be developed under some of the large companies.
“This is because we want to make sure that we spread wealth in our rural communities,” the governor further explained.
Encouraging the investors to take advantage of the CBN opportunity, Emefiele stressed that “at this time, we have already done some kind of costing and the average cost needed to prepare, develop and plant a hectare is almost about N1 million to N1.2 million. So if you want 10,000 hectares, you need up to N10 billion on the average.”
He assured that the loan under the programme is long- term, single-digit interest rate with long moratorium which should bring some comfort.
“We are aware that the moratorium will grow to the extent that you will not be expected to make any payment until after the palm would have started fruiting and we have information that within 2-3 years your palm should begin to fruit and if the life span is about 25 years on the average, you can imagine the kind of money you can make from about the fifth year till the palms are due for another planting.
“So we have taken all the studies and we believe we have all the information that is needed, so it is just for you to very aggressively indicate interest and join this programme.
“I repeat, you will not be able to import palm oil again,” he warned.
At the event, Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo State, commended the CBN for its interventions in the economy particularly the palm oil sector as he enumerated how his state had keyed into the palm oil sector programme.
“I want to thank the governor of the central bank for this Illuminating policy in the sense that oil palm and the value crop like oil palm, rubber, cocoa were the base on which the economy of this country was built at independence and if we are going to see real growth, we need to go back to those products where we have relatively competitive and comparative advantages.”
According to the governor, Edo state is supposed to be a model for other states in palm oil business.
“What we have done in the case of Edo state is to look at the entire spectrum, from policy, land, the infrastructure, security, finance and the inputs,” he said.
Speaking further on the work being done in Edo state, he noted: “We held a session with some stakeholders on the issue of land, where we have available as we speak 118,000 hectares of land which has been identified for the oil palm programme, 115,000 will be used for the actual cultivation and the rest will be areas for infrastructure, roads.
“Specifically, on the lands, we have the government working on how to acquire lands, how to survey the lands, how to issue the titles on an accelerated basis, instead of charges that will apply through the period of ownership.
He said that they had also created the oil palm re-forestation framework, beginning with a forestry commission that is specifically focused on this.
Onyinye Nwachukwu, Abuja