Forex ban on toothpicks, poultry products, others still in force – CBN

Contrary to media reports that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reversed its policy banning importers of 41 items from accessing dollars through the official forex window, the apex bank on Thursday said that the restriction was still in place.

The CBN in July 2015, restricted 41 items, including toothpicks, vegetable oil, poultry products, cosmetics, plastic and rubber products.

The apex bank argued that the move would encourage patronage of locally made goods.

The Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor,  in a statement stated that “The attention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been drawn to media reports to the effect that the CBN has reversed part of its policy on some import items ineligible for forex.

“We wish to state that these reports and their interpretations are wrong.

The CBN has not reversed its policy on the 41 items ineligible for forex through the Nigerian forex market.”

He pointed out that the reports appear to be a misinterpretation of the apex Bank’s circular entitled: “Revised Documentation Requirements for Allocation of foreign exchange for small-scale importation” dated May 03, 2017. He explained that the circular stated that importers of items classified as “ineligible for Forex” with transactions value of $20,000 and below per quarter would now qualify for allocation of foreign exchange subject to the completion of form Q.

The CBN spokesman stressed: This provision does not refer to the 41 items that remain ineligible for forex sale in the Nigerian Forex market.”

Reuters had reported yesterday that the apex bank issued a circular indicating that the restriction has been lifted for importers bringing in goods worth up to $20,000 per quarter.

The news agency said the banking watchdog said in the circular : “Importers of items classified as not valid for forex with transactions value of $20,000 and below per quarter shall now qualify for allocation of foreign exchange.”

Last month the CBN cut the amount of paperwork needed for small firms to buy dollars, to ease doing business and help narrow the gap between official and parallel market exchange rates. It said it would offer them up to $20,000 per quarter

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