CBN defends forex restriction for milk imports

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has defended its policy restricting foreign exchange access to importers of milk.

In a statement, the CBN said there were attempts  by some interests, who feel hurt by the planned policy aimed at promoting the local production of milk, to mislead the public by misrepresenting the unassailable case for investments in local milk production and the medium to long-term benefits of the planned policy.

“While we are aware that some of our policies may hurt some business interests,  we are thankful to Nigerians for the buy-in and intense interest in the policies  of the CBN. As a people-oriented institution, however, we shall remain focused  on the overarching and ultimate welfare of the Nigerian masses.

‘’We, therefore, wish to, once again, reiterate our policy case as it relates to the  planned restriction of access to the Foreign Exchange market by importers of milk,” the statement said.

Continuing, the CBN explained that the country and the welfare of  Nigerians come first in all its policies. “Being an apolitical organisation, we do not wish to be dragged into politics. Our focus remains ensuring forex savings, job creation and  investments in the local production of milk. For over 60 years, Nigerian children and indeed adults have been made to be heavily dependent on milk imports. The national food security implications of this can easily be imagined, particularly, when it is technically and commercially possible to breed the cows that produce milk in Nigeria.

About three years ago, we began a policy to encourage backward integration to

conserve foreign exchange and create jobs for our people,” it said.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Milk importation is not banned. Indeed, the CBN  has no such power. All we will do is to restrict sale of forex for the importation  of milk from the  foreign exchange market. We wish to reiterate that we remain ready and able to provide the needed finance to enable investors who genuinely want to engage in milk production,” it added.

“Arising from the success of the restriction policy, we approached some milk importers,  like we did for rice, tomato and starch and asked them to take advantage ofCBN’s low-interest loans to begin local milk production instead of relying  endlessly on milk imports. Today, although there have been some successful attempts at producing milk locally, the vast majority of the importers still treat this national aspiration with imperial contempt,” it stated.

It said the ongoing resort to blackmail and undue politicisation through the use of social media attacks can only serve to strengthen our resolve to wean our country from the clutches of powerful and highly influential traders and dealers who have kept the masses of our people hostage to foreign consumption and  condemned our youths to perpetual unemployment.

“We call on Nigerians to enlist in this vanguard to take our economy back from vested interests, make our country a productive economy and create jobs,” it said.


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