The Managing Director, AgroNigeria, Mr. Richard-Mark Mbaram has opined that the Federal Government’s suggestion to divert forex to other profitable economic activities will provide protection for local producers of agro commodities.
Speaking with Newsmen on Monday in Lagos against the backdrop of the Federal Government ’s suggestion to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop FOREX to food importers, Mr Mbaram asserted that the most striking implication was that it was a positive move to create hurdles on the part of the food and agro commodity importers.
“There are particularly wide-ranging implications for agricultural productivity and development where the government decides to go tough on importation leveraging monetary policy tools at its disposal.
“The most striking implication of the Forex ban is a positive one in that it basically creates a situation where hurdles are placed on the path of importers of food and other Agro commodities, he said.
“This makes it more expensive for them to finance these imports. It must be kept in mind that these commodities are not in themselves banned, but that they are merely being handed hostile terms.
“The key benefit is that it provides some measure of protection for the local producers of such commodities and its derivatives,’’ Mbaram said.
The AgroNigeria boss, however, called for more secure land borders as well as the entrenched corruption in the system through which these products find their way into the country to compromise the good intentions of the government.
“To this end, I advocate for a review of the customs and excise regime in the country with a view to engaging all stakeholders in the private and public sector.
“The objective will be to ensure that those private entities that have the capacity to weigh in and provide ideas on mitigating the problem of our porous land borders are leveraged and mainstreamed into a nationally coordinated effort,” he added
It is being reported that AgroNigeria is the organiser of the Feed Nigeria Summit 2019 (FNS2019), an annual programme bringing together stakeholders in the agriculture space to tinker on challenges impeding the sector and proffer solutions that will guide policies.
Mbaram told Newsmen that the FNS 2019, tagged “Unlocking Prosperity through Partnership’’ is scheduled to hold in between Aug. 27 and Aug. 28 at Ladi-Kwali Conference Center, Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja.
“In this regard, government’s embrace of the Africa Development Bank’s (AFDB) Special Agro-Industrial Zones Project is a massively good move as it seeks to enhance agro-industrialization through the provision of targeted infrastructure in locales of high agro-commodity production.”
Meanwhile, the Presidency has explained that the recent directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food items did not mean a restriction on the importation of food items.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu in Abuja further stated that any importers of food items that wished to source their FOREX from non-government financial institutions and pay customs duty on those imports – increasing the intake of tax-were free to do so.
“Should importers of these items wish to source their FOREX from non-government financial institutions and pay customs duty on those imports – increasing tax-take, they are freely able to do so.”
Shehu stated that President Buhari has consistently worked towards strengthening Nigeria’s own industrial and agricultural base. Thus, recent decision sees the Central Bank maintain its reserves to put to use helping growth of the domestic industry in 41 product sectors rather than provide FOREX for the import of those products from overseas.