CBN will continue to fight economic saboteurs, says Emefiele

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has declared that it would continue to use unconventional methods to revive the country’s economy and encourage local production.Part of the unconventional means would be to declare as “economic sabotage and cease accounts of individuals and companies” that engage in importation of 43 items already placed on restriction by the apex bank.

This was the fulcrum of the Distinguished Leadership Lecture delivered by the Governor of the CBN, Dr Godwin Emefiele, at the International Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan (UI) yesterday.

The lecture was titled, “Up Against the Tide: Nigeria’s Heterodox Monetary Policy and the Bretton Woods Consensus”.According to Emefiele, since it was obvious that the prevailing system in Nigeria makes those conventional theories of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international financial institutions to work, the CBN has to consider unconstitutional means to fight economic recession and restructure the economy.

Emefiele, who was recently reappointed as the CBN governor by President Muhammadu Buhari, said Nigeria could not continue to be a dumping ground for all manners of goods and also allow smuggling while still expecting growth in her economy. He said the critics of the unconventional methods of the CBN did not want restrictions on importation of goods that can be produced in Nigeria but were quick to advocate for conventional means of imposing levies and high tariffs on certain goods to discourage their importation.

He said the CBN had tried those conventional means but they did not give any result because of the country’s porous borders and the compromising attitude of some officers at Nigerian ports and borders.He recalled when the Federal Government increased tariffs and levies on imported tomato pastes in 2018, noting that at the end of that year, there was nothing in the balance sheet to show that a dime was paid for tomato pastes imported to the country.

He asked: “Does that mean nobody imported tomato paste for a whole year? They took our jobs abroad and brought us poverty. About 1.5 million jobs were lost in the textile companies in the early 90s and some of them became miscreants. That is why we say any company that imported any of the 43 items we placed restrictions on will have its bank account in Nigeria frozen and the directors of that company will suffer the same punishment.”

He described the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Federal Government as one of the unconventional ways of improving agricultural production in the country.

He added: “We have also improved access to markets for farmers by facilitating greater partnership with agro-processors and industrial firms in sourcing of raw materials. So far, the programme has supported more than 1,059,604 small holder farmers across all the 36 states of Nigeria in cultivating 16 different commodities over 1.114 million hectares of farmland. It has also supported the creation of over 2.5 million jobs across the agricultural value chain.”