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Non-oil exports may continue in limbo as far as current forex policy remains unchanged—LCCI

Barely less than one week the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) hailed the federal government’s in recovering the ailing economy, the same body has turned around to say that the current foreign exchange policy is detrimental to non-oil exports and has led to sharp practices and corruption in the export documentation process.

In a statement issued by the Director-General, LCCI, Mr. Muda Yusuf, weekend, the Chamber said it has received rising number of complaints from exporters about the adverse effects of the current forex policy on the export business.

Yusuf said “The policy hurts and demotivates exporters as it denies them the natural advantage of increased profitability, which a weak currency offers.”

LCCI told the federal government that the forex policy had denied Nigerians the major advantages of a weak currency was the incentive it would provide to exporters in the sense that the currency depreciation would make exports cheaper, create business and improve profitability for exporters.

Yusuf said “The banks are, by the current regulation, the custodians of the export proceeds, which they covert to local currency for exporters at the official rate. Given the free market premium of about 35 per cent, the policy represents a major disincentive to the export business. Yet, the export sector development is one of the major planks of the economic diversification programme of the present administration”.

“This policy regime resulted in a decline in the official declaration of export proceeds. It has also led to sharp practices and corruption in export documentation processes.

“This does not augur well for the economy and is not consistent with the objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan. This is also a major shortcoming of the current forex policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

Yusuf urged the CBN and the Economic Management Team to urgently review the policy and allow exporters free access to their export proceeds, saying “The banks should not impose conversion rates on them. Indeed, many Asian economies deliberately devalue their currencies so as to stimulate their export sectors. All forms of restrictions to forex inflows should be removed so that the supply side of the forex market can be positively impacted and the current pressure on the forex market reduced”.

“This will complement the recent efforts of the CBN to ease the pressure on the forex market, strengthen the naira exchange rate, bolster foreign reserves and boost investors’ confidence,” LCCI said.