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CBN Governor Clarifies Restrictions on 43 Items

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, has clarified that the 43 items recently subject to foreign exchange restrictions were never explicitly prohibited from importation or sale in Nigeria.

Cardoso made this clarification at the 58th Annual Bankers’ Dinner organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) in Lagos.

He said the issue of trade policy, specifically the importation and sale of the 43 items, falls within the domain of the fiscal authorities, not the CBN.

The CBN had initially imposed restrictions on accessing foreign exchange for the importation of these items in June 2015. However, these restrictions led to increased demand for foreign exchange in the parallel market, weakening the exchange rate and widening the premium between the parallel and official markets.

Cardoso said, “Allow me to provide further clarification on the issue of the 43 items.

“Firstly, it is important to note that these items were never outrightly banned by the government.

“The CBN had imposed restrictions on their access to foreign exchange in the official market.

“However, these restrictions resulted in increased demand for foreign exchange in the parallel market, leading to the depreciation of the exchange rate in that segment of the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market and widening the premium between the parallel and official market.’’

According to the CBN governor, studies have shown that during the period of restrictions, trade evasion by importers accessing the foreign exchange market increased by 51.0%, resulting in a revenue drop of approximately $1.4 billion, or $275 million annually, between 2015 and 2019.

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