ABUJA, NOVEMBER 12, 2016 – Banks are not co-operating with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on forex policy, Manufacturing Association of Nigeria (MAN) President Dr. Frank Udemba Jacobs has said.
Dr Jacobs said the CBN was sensitive to the plight of the manufacturing sector, but it was unfortunate the apex bank’s good intention were being frustrated by those who didn’t share the same passion for manufacturers, in particular, or the nation.
He cited the CBN’s directive to banks to allocate 60 per cent of available forex to manufacturers for the importation of raw materials and spare parts, which the banks had not implemented.
He told The Nation that the CBN also released about $414 million recently, with provisions for another $500 million for allocation to manufacturing and other critical sectors, but regretted that banks were not co-operating, thereby frustrating a critical policy.
Jacobs debunked the allegation that the CBN ‘settled the manufacturing sector with $330 million, saying the CBN announced the release of $314 million but he did not know who benefitted from it.
Acknowledging that manufacturing was the worst hit by forex scarcity, Jacobs said the case of those included in the list of items excluded from the inter-bank forex was more worrisome.
But manufacturers and the Organised Private Sector (OPS) had argued that the CBN should not have excluded the 41 items as some things in the list were actually raw materials and input for industries.
On the embedded power supply proposed by manufacturers to save their businesses, he said the project was ongoing as planned.
“We have made remarkable progress in this direction by receiving bids from power companies, and have carried out tariff evaluation following the opening of the bids from which we have shortlisted three companies that we’ve adjudged to be competent. We have also selected four clusters for the pilot project.
They are Henry Carr Street, Isolo, Amuwo Odofin and Ilupeju. As I said, these are tentative arrangements which have not been finalised. It must be said that we have not started actual operations yet.”
On the implication of the planned relocation of a major tomato paste manufacturer, Erisco Foods Nig. Limited to China and some other African countries, the MAN boss said the issue of closure and planned relocation was for the company alone to decide.
He said the decision of the company to shut its operations in Nigeria would have serious implication for the economy in terms of further job losses at a time that the unemployment rate was soaring.
He said the planned closure would send wrong signals to potential investors, adding that the action would lead to loss of revenue.