Chief David Iwata is the President of Sapele Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Deputy President South South Chambers of Commerce and Industry. In this interview he bares his mind on the state of the nation and proffers solution to Nigeria’s socio-economic and political challenges. Excerpts:
By Godwin Oghre
How will you react to claims in some quarters that the President is slow?
Nigerians describing the president to be slow are myopic, impatient and full of ignorance. Their reflection does put into consideration the depth of destruction and corruption by past governments even before 1999.
What is your take on the nation’s currency?
The Naira is a critical aspect of our economy .The major problem of the country is on the exchange value of our currency against others .The naira value shall be in the region of N400 to N500 to a dollar very soon.
What do you think should be done to remedy the situation?
By deliberate and urgent sustainable non-oil export campaign and huge capital injection that must be borrowed by the federal government and the State governments for further on-lending to the private sector of every State, particularly to those involved in exports. If the federal and State governments embark on this, will be the saving grace for the naira to gather strength to make it achieve an appreciation against other currencies.
What about petroleum?
The Federal Government must encourage massive processing of refined petroleum products through availability of modular refineries, particularly for pms, diesel and kerosene because the dollar is heavily depleted by the input of refined petroleum products.
The federal government should make sure that all exports of crude oil are done by Nigerian ship owners so that the earning for operating our crude oil outside our shore should flow into Nigeria.
What will you comment on the forex market?
The Central Bank should without delay allow non-oil exporters to repatriate their export proceeds and sell to their own buyers at a rate to be determined between the buyer and the seller.
They should make a deliberate policy to allow banks to grant loans to entrepreneurs who have non-oil import projects without the stringent money deposit banks being asked to issue in return treasury bills of 100% of the amount they want to give to the importer. What we currently have now by CBN rule is that it is the commercials banks that are bearing the consequences of lending to entrepreneurs instead of the CBN.
As such about N300b made available for the banks for one year now has not been touched, the money is still with CBN.
How will this affect the flow of imports and exports?
Imports are dwindling and exports are at zero point. The custom revenue target for 2015 is about N980b but they have a deficit of N240b.
The custom is attributing this to the policy of CBN placing a ban on the importation of 41 items, discouraging importers and encouraging exporters, a situation which creates employment for the citizen in other countries.