By Babajide Komolafe
In continuation of its foreign exchange restriction on 41 items popularly known as ’41 items policy’, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, yesterday, increased the number of items banned from accessing foreign exchange to 42 as it imposed foreign exchange ban on fertiliser importation.
The ban was announced by Director, Trade and Exchange Department, CBN, Ahmed Umar, in a circular entitled: “Re: Inclusion of some imported goods and services on list of items as ‘Not Valid for Foreign Exchange in the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market.”
The circular stated: “In the continued effort to sustain the achievement recorded from the classification of 41 items as ‘Not for valid for foreign exchange’ in the Nigerian foreign exchange market, authorised dealers and the general public are hereby notified of the inclusion of ‘fertiliser’ on the lists effective Friday, December 7, 2018.
“However, CBN will ensure that transactions (Form M) on fertiliser for which payments are outstanding are settled at the appropriate settlement dates.”
In a related development, the CBN said it would commence investigation of bank accounts of corporates involved in massive importation (dumping) of the 41 items into the country for possible violation of the foreign exchange restrictions.
Announcing this move in a circular entitled: “Foreign Exchange Restriction on the importation of 42 items,” Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Ken Amogu said: “Trade information available to the CBN indicates circumvention of the policy as the restricted items are being dumped in the country.
“The implications are that the growth and employment benefits arising from the policy may be eroded if not checked.”
“The CBN views this development with trepidation. The Economic Intelligence Unit of the bank in collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) would commence immediate investigation of the accounts of the corporate and entities engaged in this unwholesome act with a view to visiting severe sanctions on all culprits.
Such sanctions would among others include blacklisting the corporate and their directors; closure of their bank accounts; and restricting them from maintaining any bank account in any bank under the CBN remit.
“Banks that provided their platforms for such economic abuses would also be appropriately sanctioned.
“Banks are by this notice advised on strict compliance with the Know Your Customer Business (KYC) and Know Your Customer Business (KYB) requirements and to be properly guided”