UPDATE 1-Nigeria's central bank told to stop giving forex for food imports - REUTERS
SEPTEMBER 10, 2020
(Adds details, context)
ABUJA, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday directed the central bank to stop issuing foreign exchange for food and fertiliser imports, according to a statement by his spokesman.
It follows a similar order the president issued last year that the nominally-independent bank only partly followed, with some food importers still receiving foreign exchange.
But Thursdayâ€™s directive will completely ban providing foreign currency for all imported food and fertiliser, the spokesman told Reuters. â€œNobody importing food should be given money,â€ Buhari said.
Since his election in 2015, Buhari has sought to cut foreign imports, particularly agricultural products. Expanding Nigeriaâ€™s farm sector is a key pillar of his economic policy.
But the bans on imports like rice have seen prices surge, sparking widespread frustration.
Nigeriaâ€™s foreign reserves have been battered as the central bank spends billions of dollars on costly programmes such as propping up the local naira currency despite double-digit inflation.
There was no immediate, public reaction from the central bank to Buhariâ€™s comments, though its governor was present at the meeting where the order was given. (Reporting by Felix Onuah in Abuja; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Sandra Maler and Andrew Cawthorne)