The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said its plan was to put restrictions on sale of forex for the importation of milk from the Nigerian foreign exchange market, rather than placing a ban on the importation of milk.
The apex bank while reacting to news that it planned a ban on the importation of milk, said it lacked such powers, but putting a restriction of forex on the importation would promote local production of milk in the country.
The CBN Director, Corporate Communication Department, Isaac Okorafor, said this in a statement in Abuja on Friday.
According to him, some interests, who feel hurt by the planned policy to boost local production of milk are misleading the public on social media by misrepresenting the case for investments in local milk production.
He said, “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 import.
“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.
“Included in this policy package was the introduction of the highly successful policy, which restricted sale of forex from the Nigerian foreign exchange market for the importation of some 43 items goods that could be produced in Nigeria.
“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 of CBN’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,” he explained.
The spokesperson said for the avoidance of doubt, milk importation was not banned as the apex bank had no such power.
He added that CBN would only restrict sale of forex for the importation of milk from the Nigerian 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.
“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.
“Especially those 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 for our teeming youths,” he said.
By Babatunde Alao…
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