CBN FX Policies Discouraging Foreign Investors—Muda Yusuf

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The immediate past director-general (DG) of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce Industry (LCCI), Mr Muda Yusuf, has blamed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the low influx of foreign investors into the country, especially through foreign direct investments (FDIs).

According to the economic expert, the policies of the apex bank as regards the foreign exchange (FX) cannot attract investors into the country.

Mr Yusuf, while speaking last week on Fact File, a programme anchored by Mr Tayo Somide on RayPower FM, said no investor will want to bring in forex at N410 when it trades at over N500 at the open market.

The former LCCI DG was reacting to the decision of the CBN to stop the sale of FX to Bureaux De Change (BDC) operators on allegations of illicit FX flows.

During the 30-minute programme monitored by Business Post in Lagos, Mr Yusuf said the central bank must make efforts to collapse the forex rates into one to make it attractive to foreign investors.

Last week, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in the second quarter of 2021, capital importation declined by 54.06 per cent quarter-on-quarter to $875.6 million from $1.9 billion in the first quarter of this year.

On a year-on-year basis, the capital inflows also went down by 32.38 per cent as the inflows in the same period of last year was $1.3 billion.

For Mr Yusuf, this will continue except the CBN FX policies are attractive to foreign investors and efforts must be made to work on the demand side of the market.

According to him, the apex bank should focus more on ‘demand management,’ suggesting that the bank should build more on the supply pressure by reviewing the exchange rate at the Investors & Exporters (I&E) window in order to encourage investors to bring in their foreign currency to the economy.

According to the former DG, “When you are talking about foreign exchange, there are two sides to it; there is the demand pressure, and the supply side.

“We need to do a lot more around issues of supply. When you fix the rate at, say, N410/$1 and expect people to bring in their foreign currency at such a rate, will they bring it, knowing that the open market is around N500/$1?

So, in a way, we are blocking the supply of forex to the official system,” he submitted.

He also warned that the discontinuation of forex sales to BDCs will cause inflation to spike again after easing for the past three months. It moderated to 17.75 per cent in June, according to the NBS.

According to him, inflation will push prices of goods upwards as sellers will begin to change their prices.

While commenting on the announcement made by the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emiefele, to launch e-naira in October, Mr Yusuf emphasised the importance of ensuring an appropriate regulatory framework before going down such a route.

He compared the difficulty in monitoring the activities of digital currencies in other countries and reiterated the need to ensure that the introduction of e-naira does not come as a threat to the country’s financial system.

“There is no system that cannot be abused and sometimes, some of these digital currencies can be difficult to regulate.

“I think the CBN is having a second thought about it. But what is important is that we have an effective and robust regulatory framework and that the introduction of the e-naira does create room for illicit transactions,” he said.

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