Local food processors petition Buhari over forex allocation

By Louis Ibah

Nigerian local food manufacturers have petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari over what they described as discriminatory foreign currency allocation by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
They lamented that rather than boosting the growth of the real sector, it is strangulating it.
In a petition entitled: “Continuous frustration of indigenous manufacturers by CBN and Other MDA’s” they challenged the apex bank to make public the names of all the companies that have benefited from its forex allocation in the last one year.
The publication of the names of the beneficiaries, they said, would reveal that more than 90 per cent of forex had been given to foreign firms who simply take the money offshore to engage in imports of finished goods rather than raw materials or spares to grow the country’s manufacturing sector.
“The Federal Government may not know that most indigenous manufacturers are being frustrated continually by the deceit of the CBN.
For instance, the present forex allocation mechanism has been too expensive and costly to all genuine indigenous manufacturers. And aside that, greater priority is given to foreign investors in the allocation of forex and they are the ones engaging in round-tripping. They collude with the CBN and NAFDAC to get forex and import permits to bring in banned goods into the country without really investing in the manufacturing aspect of the business. This is strangulating and even killing the efforts of genuine indigenous manufacturers who can not compete under this kind of cruel investment climate,” Eric Umeofia, President/CEO of Erisco who spoke to Daily Sun on behalf of the local manufacturers, said.
Umeofia cited a recent case where a paltry $30,000 was allocated to Erisco Foods out of the $400,000 it applied for, whereas that same week, a foreign import firm was allocated $400,000 to import frozen fish and other banned foods. “There has never been any preferential treatment on forex allocation to indigenous manufacturers as the CBN would want people to believe except on very few occasions when they allocated forex on spot basis,” he said.
“How does the CBN want local firms to grow and diversify the economy? Is it by giving importers more support than indigenous manufacturers?” he queried.
The food manufacturers also described the intervention funds released by the CBN as death traps for local manufacturers.

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