Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele hinted yesterday of new plans to combat the nation’s forex crisis.
He said the apex bank was looking beyond monetary policy measures to deal with the challenges.
According to Emefiele, monetary policies cannot sufficiently address the problem in the face of rising demand for foreign exchange for goods, services and other needs.
Speaking at the maiden bi-annual Non-Oil Export Summit in Lagos, Emefiele described the RT200 FX Programme recently unveiled by the apex bank as one of such strategies.
The RT200 FX Programme is an initiative of the Bankers’ Committee aimed at raising $200 billion in non-oil export earnings over the next three to five years.
Emefiele listed value-adding exports facility; non-oil commodities expansion facility; non-oil fx rebate scheme; dedicated non-oil export terminal and biannual non-oil export summit as the five pillars anchoring the programme.
According to him, the CBN has been working overtime to manage the demand and supply side to meet forex obligations.
Attributing the prevailing challenges of the local economy to COVID-19 pandemic, delays in global logistic value chains and local security challenges, Emefiele expressed concern that the current sources of foreign exchange inflows were unreliable and prone to fluctuations of global economic developments.
The CBN boss noted that the global economic challenges have impacted food production among others and exerted undue pressure on the economy, thereby exposing the fragility of the Nigerian economy and making macroeconomic management very difficult.
Stressing the need for a more diversified economy, Emefiele said Monetary Policy alone could not bear all the burden of the expected adjustments needed to manage the challenges to the Nigerian economy.
He said: “These problems call for urgent design and steadfast implementation of other supportive, structural and complementary policies that are broad based, coordinated and focused on complementing the work of the monetary authority.”
Restating the need for a more diversified economy, Emefiele said Nigeria could be great without crude oil, the global price of which the country had no control over.
He therefore urged all stakeholders to regroup by working together to reposition Nigeria on a growth trajectory by taking diversification of the economy much more seriously, emphasising that Nigeria had very little choice left but to look inwards and find innovative solutions to its challenges.
He said to avoid sudden adjustments to nation’s economic life, there was need to focus on strategies that can help the country earn more stable and sustainable inflows of foreign exchange.
Emefiele said: “We would need to follow the best practices of other countries and ensure that we protect ourselves a little bit from factors that are beyond our immediate control.
“This is the time to start working in synergy for the good of our nation. This is the time for us as a Banking Community to do more and support exporters who have been flying the flag of Nigeria in the international market space.”
Admitting the enormity of the ultimate goal of the $200 billion non-oil exports over the medium term, Emefiele expressed confidence that the goal is attainable, given the fact that many countries, less endowed than Nigeria have achieved much in the field of agriculture.
Underscoring the point, he said that within a short period of implementing the Non-Oil FX Rebate Scheme, the country had recorded a significant increase in non-oil export repatriation, adding that eligible exporters have been paid over N3.5 billion in rebates.
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu praised the CBN and other actors in the banking sector for supporting the efforts of the Federal Government and states, especially Lagos, to boost economic growth.
Sanwo-Olu expressed optimism that the Lekki Deep Sea Port, which he described as the largest in West Africa, would be ready for use by the end of 2022, thereby providing enormous opportunities to exporters to conduct their trade and improve the export earnings of the country.
As part of efforts to decongest the Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports in Lagos, the governor said the State Government was awaiting approval for work to begin on the Badagry Ports in the Western part of Lagos.
He assured stakeholders that the state will continue to promote policies and programmes that will ease the process of doing business in Nigerial’s industrial hub.
In his opening remarks, CBN Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, Dr. Kingsley Obiora, said the RT200 Non-Oil Exports Summit was a promise kept by Emefiele at the launch of the programme in February 2022, pointing out that the RT200 policy was designed to incentivise exporters in the non-oil export sector to repatriate and sell their export proceeds in the local foreign exchange market.