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Deputy Reps spokesman hits CBN over forex crisis

The Deputy Spokesman of the House of Representatives, Hon. Philip Agbese, has described the new leadership of the Central Bank of Nigeria as unprepared. Agbese…

The Deputy Spokesman of the House of Representatives, Hon. Philip Agbese, has described the new leadership of the Central Bank of Nigeria as unprepared.

Agbese lamented that Dr Yemi Cardoso and his team were making the same mistakes that Godwin Emefiele made that crippled the economy and left the nation on the brink of collapse.

The lawmaker said this recently when elder statesman and former Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, paid him a courtesy visit to his office.

Recall that the naira, Monday, exchanged for around 1,200 per dollar in the official market no thanks to a combination of CBN’s tolerance for a weakening currency and insatiable demand for the greenback.

The currency was pushed to its latest record after the Apex Bank lifted the restriction on the 43 items prohibited from accessing foreign exchange (FX) from the official foreign exchange windows.

Lambasting the CBN boss, Agbese said the recent spike in the exchange rate of the dollar shows the new leadership is taking Nigeria backwards.

The lawmaker further flayed the lifting of the restrictions, describing it as ‘putting the cart before the horse’.

“The Cardoso-led CBN is not ready for the task. While it is still early days the steps taken so far depict incapacity,” Agbese said.

“The recent spike in the exchange rate of the dollar is a clear indication that the new CBN Leadership has gotten things wrong from the start.

“The freefall of the naira in the unofficial market has been exacerbated by the removal of currency restrictions on the official market. These restrictions had previously propped up the naira’s value.

“The lifting of the ban on the importation of some items at a time when our import is already high and local companies struggling to survive has shown that we are far from the end of the troubles at the moment.

“One would expect the CBN to increase the number of the items so that local production for domestic consumption will be increased and impact positively on the economy.

“You can see how the dollar rate is rising. What it means is that all those who used to go to the parallel market for dollars are now going to the government to demand it.

“The CBN wanted to close the gap between the official and the black market to discourage round-tripping, but do they have the capacity to fund the dollar demand? They don’t have it. So, it is a cheap and lazy way of managing the monetary policy of the country so that people will say the government is working.

“But the truth of the matter is that the business proposition is not valid, the CBN did not interact with the stakeholders. This policy will make Nigeria lose all the gains that we may have made as a result of the ban.

“Lifting this ban without a response from fiscal policy, not by increasing tariff on these items, but by deploying non-tariff measures such as levies, may expose the local manufacturers of these products to undue competition from foreign producers whose governments provide various production subsidies.”

Agbese, therefore, advised Cardoso and his team to get their acts together,  warning that Nigerians would not endure another hardship and suffering as they did under Emefiele.

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