The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, under President Muhammadu Buhari, has vowed to clamp down on individuals, Banks, and businesses, engaging in clandestine activities to frustrate the restriction of foreign exchange on the importation of 41 items into the country.
Recall, that in June 2015, the CBN listed 41 items, which it said were ineligible for allocation of foreign exchange for their importation, on grounds that they could be competitively produced within the Nigerian economy.
Some of the affected items include rice, cement, margarine, palm kernel, palm oil products, vegetable oils, meat and processed meat products, vegetables and process vegetable products, poultry, tomatoes/tomato paste, soap and cosmetics, and clothes.
Other items include private airplanes/jets, Indian incense, tinned fish in sauce, cold rolled steel sheets, galvanised steel sheets, roofing sheets, wheelbarrows, head pans, metal boxes/containers, enamel ware, steel drums and pipes, wire mesh, steel nails, wood particle boards and panels.
Also included were security and razor wire, wood particle and fibre boards and panels, wooden doors, furniture, toothpicks, glass/glassware, kitchen utensils, tableware, tiles (vitrified, ceramics), textiles, wooden fabrics, plastic/rubber products, polypropylene granules and cellophane wrappers.
The CBN, has now included fertiliser as the latest commodity to be affected by the policy.
However, the CBN Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Kevin Amugo, revealed in a statement that the policy has resulted in massive investments and the establishment of cottage industries, that are now producing the hitherto restricted items across the country.
Mr. Amugo said that it was unfortunate for the CBN to observe that the policy was fast being circumvented through the importation and dumping of the goods and services.
Frowning at the development, Amugo warns that the Economic Intelligence Unit of the apex Bank, in collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, would start the immediate investigation of corporate accounts and entities suspected to be abusing the policy.
The CBN added that it would not hesitate to impose severe sanctions on all the culprits and perpetrators of these abuses.
Such sanctions, the Director said, in a letter to all Banks, include blacklisting the corporate entities and their Directors; closure of their Bank accounts, and restricting them from maintaining any Bank account in any Bank under the CBN’s supervision.
“Banks that provide their platforms for such economic sabotage and abuses would be appropriately sanctioned”, the CBN said.
He urged Banks to ensure strict compliance with the Know-Your-Customer, KYC, and Know-Your-Customer Business, KYCB, requirements, to avoid unpleasant consequences.