CBN moves against N1.23 trillion yearly textiles import bill

[FILE PHOTO] Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) governor Godwin Emefiele

•Restates forex ban on 43 items, zero tolerance for smuggling
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has stepped up its import substitution strategy in the textile industry with the distribution of cotton seeds and other inputs to over 100,000 cotton farmers for the 2019 planting season.

The move, aimed at reviving the nation’s textiles and garments sector as well as improving cotton production from the 80,000 tonnes produced in 2018 to over 300,000 tonnes by 2020, is also strategic in reducing the estimated $4 billion (N1.23 trillion) yearly foreign exchange on imported textiles and ready-made clothing.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, at the national flag-off of the distribution of cotton seeds/inputs to farmers yesterday in Katsina, also reiterated that the foreign exchange restriction on finished textiles and other 42 items remained in full force.

Supported by governors of Katsina and Kano states, Bello Masari and Abdullahi Ganduje, as well as the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, he noted that the intervention was to change the narrative of cotton farmers and impact the sector positively.

According to him, the provision of seedlings to more than 100,000 farmers cultivating over 200,000 hectares of farmland, along with extensive training on proper farming techniques, would boost production of high grade cotton lint at much improved yields of up to four tonnes per hectare, from the current cultivation rate of less than one tonne per hectare.

Emefiele said the move would also reduce the N1.23 trillion yearly import bill on textiles and ready-made clothes.

He also disclosed that the package included fertiliser, pesticides and knapsack sprayers, adding that the National Cotton Association of Nigeria would ensure compliance of its members.

The CBN boss further fsaid the choice of Katsina was based on its immense potential to lead cotton-producing states nationwide.

He announced that the measures were yielding desired results and had helped in driving interest by potential investors to support improved production of textiles in the country.

To contain smuggling, Emefiele said the bank was gathering data and investigating accounts of individuals and corporate entities identified with the menace with a view to blacklisting them.

He said farmers and processors apart from dealing with low quality seeds, rising operating cost and weak sales due to high energy cost, had also faced poor access to finance and smuggling of textile goods, estimated at over $2.2 billion yearly.

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