The Association of Food, Beverage & Tobacco Employers (AFBTE) has appealed to the federal government to engage members of the organised private sector (OPS) and stakeholders in the food industry on plan to end the allocation of foreign exchange for importation of food.
The President, AFBTE, Chief Patrick Anegbe, made this call in a statement yesterday.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had towards the end of July announced the decision to deny access to foreign exchange for the importation of milk and other dairy products.
“The negative economic implications of this move in the short run on the performance of the affected Companies and the overall economy have been widely highlighted by experts, industrialists and managers of the targeted businesses.
“One critical aspect is the impact the sudden ban will have on the overall financial results of the companies affected which will also likely lead to loss of jobs among others.
“The OPS had tried to draw the attention of CBN to the danger in not allowing for a reasonable period of time for those concerned to make adequate preparations to source their imported milk and dairy products locally.
“The engagement on this CBN pronouncement was still on when news came that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had at an event in his home State during the Eid-el-Kabir holiday, announced that he had instructed the CBN not to allocate foreign exchange for importation of food,” the statement added.
It stressed the need for clarification on the latest directive regarding whether all food products or some food products were to be affected.
“A meeting with stakeholders to discuss the backward integration agenda of government and a follow-up period of moratorium to enable the current food products importing companies to source needs locally would have helped in stemming some of the dangers inherent in these policy pronouncements.
“We appeal to government to engage the OPS and stakeholders in the food industry to discuss the issues involved in this matter more thoroughly before a final position on how to proceed is taken.
“We would like to trust that the government will allow for this step in the spirit of our sustained partnership with it over the years in addressing the various economic issues affecting the Nigerian state,” Anegbe added.