By Babajide Okeowo
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will soon introduce a new market-driven foreign exchange regime that would open up greater opportunities to grow the manufacturing sector and boost employment in the country.
This development was announced by the CBN’s Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele at the launch of the 100 for 100 Policy for Production and Productivity (PPP), in Abuja, yesterday.
“We will soon unveil a new FX bidding regime that is market-driven and supports companies that accord utmost priority for our local production and job creation drive” he said.
CBN has been under tremendous pressure from the International Monetary Fund and some operators in the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to float the Naira in the foreign exchange market.
The CBN boss stated that the 100 for 100 initiatives has commenced in earnest, as according to him, 243 applications valued at N321.06 billion, spread over key sectors such as agriculture, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, and services sectors have been received through the portal.
He added that priority would be accorded to companies that key into the bank’s imports substitution policy and making significant impacts in employment creation.
“We will continue to provide all the needed support, both in Naira and dollars specifically for the importation of plants and equipment to actualize these investments.
“The foreign exchange support will be solely for the importation of spares, plants and equipment needed to increase production capacities of these companies,” he assured.
Interested companies were encouraged to submit applications through their banks who would verify the claims in the applications before forwarding the same to a dedicated portal which has been created by CBN to ensure transparency.
Mr. Emefiele disclosed that 100 companies would be selected to receive funding from the CBN every 100 days.
According to him, “After much engagement, 79 applications were received from banks, valued at N121.87 billion, for projects in six (6) sectors, namely agriculture, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, mining, and services sectors,” he said, adding that 28 companies have been selected for funding.
“They were valued at N23.20 billion, comprising 14 in the manufacturing sector, 12 in the agricultural sector, and 2 in the healthcare sector.
“When fully operational, these projects are expected to create over 20,000 direct and indirect jobs across multiple sectors of the economy, as well as generate close to US$125.80 million in foreign exchange earnings.”
Speaking at the occasion, The Minister for Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, commended the CBN for the initiative which he said was in line with government employment creation policy