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We have not banned food importation – Presidency

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The Presidency has denied claims in the media that President Buhari has banned the importation of food into the country.

Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, gave the clarification in a statement he released on Sunday August 18th while responding to an article by Financial Times with claims that the President had banned food importation.

Recall that President Buhari on August 13th, announced that he has ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food into the country. Read here. Many took his comment to mean that Food importation has been banned.

However, in his statement released on Sunday, Garba said there was no ban on food importation. According to Garba, importers of the food items are still free to source their forex from non-government financial institutions towards meeting their importations.

The statement reads

“Your article ‘Muhammadu Buhari sparks dismay over policy shift on food imports’ (15 August) suggests the Nigerian Government is restricting the import of agricultural products into the country. This is simply incorrect. To be absolutely clear, there is no ban – or restriction – on the importation of food items whatsoever.

President Buhari has consistently worked towards strengthening Nigeria’s own industrial and agricultural base. A recent decision sees the CBN maintain its reserves to put to use helping growth of domestic industry in 41 products rather than provide forex for the import of those products from overseas.

Should importers of these items wish to source their forex from non-government financial institutions (and pay customs duty on those imports – increasing tax-take, something the FT has berated Nigeria for not achieving on many occasions) they are freely able to do so.

Diversification of forex provision towards the private sector and away from top-heavy government control, a diversification of Nigeria’s industrial base, and an increase in tax receipts – are all policies one might expect the Financial Times to support. Yet for reasons not quite clear, the author and this newspaper seem to believe the president’s administration seeks to control everything – and yet do so via policies that relinquish government control.

We look forward to the next instalment of Mr. Munshi’s bizarre and puzzling article series” the statement read

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