Nigerians spent N1.39trn on the importation of seven out of the 43 items earlier restricted by the Central Bank of Nigeria from accessing foreign exchange on its official platform in the fourth quarter of 2023, findings have shows.

This was as citizens imported goods worth N4.29trn in 2023, indicating an increase of 100 per cent N2.15trn from the total worth of N2.14trn commodities imported in 2022.

In 2015, the CBN had categorised about 41 import items as not valid for forex, which meant importers of the commodities were forced to source for FX at the black market often at higher rates, putting pressure on the naira.

The apex bank said the restriction was part of efforts to sustain the stability of the foreign exchange market, ensure effective utilisation of foreign exchange and the derivation of optimum benefit from goods and services imported into the country. However, these items were not banned or prohibited by the Nigerian Customs Service, so they can still be imported.

But last October, the Central Bank of Nigeria in a statement lifted the ban on importers of 43 items allowing the purchase of foreign exchange in the Nigerian foreign exchange market.

Hence, the reversal of the apex bank’s forex ban policy led to a noteworthy improvement of N1trn worth of imported goods to N1.39trn from the N1.29trn recorded in the third quarter of 2023.

The World Bank also in the December 2023 edition of its Nigeria Development Update report said that the removal of import restrictions in Nigeria will lift about 1.3 million people out of poverty.

March 18, 2024

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