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Stakeholders flay CBN’s embargo on dairy foods

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REACTIONS have continued to trail Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s plan to add importation of milk and other dairy foods to the list of items banned from accessing foreign exchange market at its official window.

Kicking against this policy in separate statements in Lagos yesterday, both Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries (LCCI) and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) expressed worries over the proposal, describing it as counter-productive.

According to Director-General of MAN, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, adding milk to restricted items would have a negative impact on the economy that may lead to downsizing and reduced government revenues, as well as the manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP.

“It is a fact that to backward integrate is the way to grow an economy, but there is a need to be strategic and deliberate about the way to implement the measure. MAN has always been at the forefront of resource-based industrialisation; and has always supported backward integration, that is the reason why many manufacturers are exploring local sourcing of raw materials. What CBN wants to achieve is almost the same but the style of approach differs and the timing,” he said.

In his own reaction, Chairman, Agric Sectoral Group of LCCI, African farmer Mogaji, expressed concerns about the apex bank’s use of monetary policies to address fiscal issues, adding that the timing was wrong for the implementation of the policy as the country currently lacks the structure, infrastructure and capacity to effectively bridge the gaps that would arise from the restriction.

“We do not have enough cows, grasses, vaccines and veterinary facility to make this policy work. The CBN intervened in rice production but there are no local rice in the market for consumers. We do not need milk added to the banned list especially now that the country is facing herders/farmers clash,” he said.

Mogaji urged government to increase the timeline for manufacturers to make appropriate preparation especially as the country’s national dairy output was 700,000 metric tonnes and demand is 1.3 million metric tonnes.

It will be recalled that CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said that the restriction was to boost local production of dairy products and increase investment in ranches within the country, noting that Nigeria currently spends about 1.2 billion dollars to 1.5 billion dollars annually on milk importation.

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