By Chika Otuchikere
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. Godwin Emefiele has assured industrial conglomerates that the apex will not prevent them from repatriating their dividends.
Speaking about Direct Foreign Investments (FDIs), Mr. Emefiele said the Bank was not opposed to the conglomerates seeking alternative but legitimate sources of foreign exchange to boost their businesses.
Emefiele gave the assurance while speaking at the weekend during a virtual meeting with Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of conglomerates in Nigeria, where he called on the conglomerates to support efforts aimed at growing the Nigerian economy and returning it to its glory days.
The virtual meeting of the CEOs came as Nigeria continues the process of full reopening of its economy due to the lockdown over the Corona Virus (COVID-19).
The Governor, however, warned that the CBN will not support the importation of items that can be produced in Nigeria because the Bank could not spend its foreign exchange reserves on what would not boost the economy and generate jobs for Nigerians.
Mr. Emefiele said the CBN, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s desire, was determined to return the Nigerian economy to the period when the manufacturing and agricultural sectors formed the base of the economy.
He acknowledged the challenge of low crude oil prices to major economies of the world and expressed confidence that the price of crude will not remain at low levels for a long period. While also emphasizing that the low crude oil prices were surmountable, he declared that Nigeria’s foreign reserves of about $37Billion remained robust to support the economy.
The governor enjoined the conglomerates to key into the current administration’s drive of diversifying the base of the Nigerian economy by taking advantage of its large population to market their products, which he insisted could be produced in Nigeria and exported to the rest of the world.
He also pledged the Bank’s willingness to provide foreign exchange to companies that required such for raw materials and machinery that could not be obtained in Nigeria.
Mr. Emefiele further noted that with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTFA) now billed to commence in January 2021, Nigeria provides the companies with immense opportunities to produce their items and make huge profits through the Nigerian market.
Speaking further on the need to prioritise the Nigerian market, the CBN Governor assured the companies that the Bank will collaborate with the relevant government agencies to help nip smuggling in the bud, while also promising to protect their businesses to ensure they succeed in Nigeria.
Similarly, he assured the CEOs of the Bank’s willingness to collaborate with other fiscal authorities to improve on their ease of doing business in Nigeria, with a view to simplifying their import and export processes.