LAGOS, March 12 Hard currency curbs imposed by
Nigeria's central bank have helped boost local food production,
central bank governor Godwin Emefiele was quoted as saying by
two newspapers on Sunday.
Entrepreneurs have criticized a halt to hard currency
allocations by the central bank for the import of almost 700
goods to prop up the naira hammered by a fall in oil revenues
and boost local food production.
"This policy was basically borne out of necessity to
conserve foreign exchange," Emefiele said in a speech, referring
to the import ban, according to Vanguard newspaper.
"This policy needs to be supported not just in response to
the pressure on the naira but as an opportunity to change the
economy's structure, resuscitate local manufacturing and expand
job creation for our citizens," he added.
Emefiele also said Egypt's experience with a free float of
its currency did not convince him Nigeria should follow suit as
it might increase inflation.
"I have heard commentators suggest we should follow Egypt's
example and free the naira," Emefiele said, according to THISDAY
"What they do not tell you is that following their currency
adjustments inflation today in Egypt is over 30 percent. Is that
what we want in Nigeria?" he said.
The central bank has faced criticism from investors for
keeping the naira at a rate some 30 percent above the black
market where entrepreneurs are forced to go amid dollar scarcity
on official channels.
The central bank was not immediately available for comment.
(Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Stephen Powell)