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Chief Eric Umeofia, Chairman, Erisco Foods Limited

Erisco Foods returns to Nigeria, seeks audit of CBN forex allocation to manufacturers

After about two to three months of production outside the country, Erisco Foods Limited which exited the country sometime last year on ground of hostile forex regime is back. The company is known for Tomato paste manufacturing.

Giving more details on his return to the economy, the President of the company, Chief Eric Umeofia said he has resumed his Nigerian operations following the granting of some of his requests by the government after pulling out late 2016.

But he was quick to say that the Federal Government should set up a special panel to monitor and also investigate the ongoing disbursement of foreign exchange (forex) to manufacturers by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

While hailing the government for listening to his pleas and for recently banning the importation of tomato paste into the country, noting that the policy would go a long way in boosting the growth and development of the local tomato farming and manufacturing industry.

“The only way to make local tomato farming and processing attractive and profitable is to discourage imports and this is what the ban by the government has done,” said Umeofia.

“In the next 18 months, if the policy is well implemented, Nigerians will begin to see the emergence of more vibrant and prosperous tomato farming and manufacturing industry and we can then begin to export,” Umeofia said.

Umeofia alleged a high level of round tripping by some manufacturers, particularly those collecting forex from the CBN for the purpose of exporting finished goods from Nigeria, saying “There is round tripping going on right now. Foreigners are defrauding the country. I am asking for an independent panel to audit or monitor the CBN forex allocation policy to manufacturers because the scheme is fraught with a lot of shortcomings. Someone should also monitor the CBN”.

“Those who have 2 per cent manufacturing company in Nigeria and 98 per cent import business are suddenly getting forex to export what they are not manufacturing anywhere in Nigeria and this is strange.

“The Federal Government has to get a parallel panel to investigate what the CBN is doing and also who the beneficiaries are; the manufacturing firms that are getting the forex. We can’t improve foreign exchange with the way we are going.

Before now, several other manufacturers had expressed similar fears over the way and manner the apex bank had been allocating the forex, saying there are serious cases of suspicion.

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