CBN: N1.3tr spent to import rice, wheat, others in 12 months

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Not less than N1.3 trillion was spent by the Federal Government on the importation of rice, fish, sugar and wheat in the last 12 months, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said on Tuesday.

The bank’s Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, Edward Lametek, spoke at a seminar organised for Finance reporters in Owerri, Imo State.

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Speaking on the theme: “Galvanising development finance and monetary policy for growth”, the bank chief restated the bank’s commitment to local production of the commodities, saying that they put a lot of pressure on the country’s import bill.

He said economic diversification remained a sustainable way to grow the economy.

Lametek noted the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), which was launched in November 2015, was designed to build partnerships between small holder farmers and reliable large-scale agro-processors, with a view to increasing agricultural output, while improving access to credit for farmers.

He said: “Our targeted focus on the agricultural and manufacturing sectors was driven by the vast opportunities for growth in these sectors given our high population.

“These sectors have the ability to absorb the growing pool of eligible workers in our effort to meet local demand and save critical foreign reserves. For many countries, the objectives of monetary policy are explicitly stated in the laws establishing the Central Bank, while for others, they are not. The objectives of monetary policy may vary from country to country.”

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He said the apex bank’s approach to stimulating economic development is centered on Agriculture, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Infrastructure development.

“You are no doubt aware that the Central Bank of Nigeria has transcended its core mandate of maintaining monetary, price and financial system stability, to undertake developmental initiatives with a view to spurring economic growth and job creation.”

Lametek said efforts at these development finance initiatives have helped to accelerate the attainment of government’s economic diversification programme, adding that diversifying the economic base presents a more sustainable and stable option.

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