Mr Issa Aremu, the General Secretary, National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) has commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the ban on sale of FOREX.
CBN had on March 5, at its meeting with stakeholders in the cotton, textile, garment value chain in Abuja, banned the sale of FOREX to importers of textiles into the country.
The CBN listed all forms of textile materials among items prohibited from foreign exchange in its official windows.
It also promised a financial intervention to textile manufacturers with the provision of funds at single digits rate to refit, retool and upgrade their factories to enable them produce high quality textile materials for the local and export market.
Aremu, who is also a NEC member of NLC, gave the commendation in Thursday in Abuja.
He observed that more than ever, the CBN had commendably financed development in Nigeria under the leadership of Mr Godwin Emefiele, citing anchor rice borrowers scheme that had improved rice sufficiency in the country.
He said that smuggling and wholesale importation of textiles contributed to the closure of many textile industries in the past.
He however described smuggling as “economic terrorism”, adding that the new initiative of the CBN governor would boost local production, create jobs and lessen pressure on FOREX if fully implemented.
The labour leader commended the creativity of CBN on the dollars restrictions on some goods Nigeria could produce at home including textiles.
According to Aremu, the CBN governor had said the decision was critical toward reviving the moribund sector and creating jobs for Nigerians.
The apex bank governor disclosed that the country currently spends over four billion dollars annually on imported textiles and ready-made clothing which is unacceptable.
He noted that the CBN governor also said the CBN would craft adequate measures to deal with the menace of smuggling, which had often threatened efforts toward self-sufficiency.
Aremu said that the CBN would make life difficult for smugglers and warned all FX dealers in the country to desist from granting any importer of textile material access to foreign currency in the Nigerian foreign exchange market.
He recalled that in the 1970s and early 1980s, Nigeria was home to Africa’s largest textile industry with over 180 textile mills in operations, which employed close to over 450,000 people.
He noted that the textile industry was the largest employer of labour after the public sector, contributing over 25 per cent of the workforce in the manufacturing sector.
The labour leader said that the industry was supported in the production of cotton by 600,000 local farmers across 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states, among others.
He said that in recent times, many of the textile employers had to lay off employees, while most of the factories mentioned had all stopped operations.
“This has left only 25 textile factories in operation presently and operating below 20 per cent of their production capacities with total workforce of less than 20,000 people,’’ he said.
Aremu commended the CBN for all the creative measures to stimulate domestic production, which would put a stop to factory closures and create new jobs.
He said that as a developing economy, Nigeria needed creative monetary policies and development financing that could boost industrialisation.
He called on the Federal Government to complement the development financing of the CBN through fiscal, industrial and labour market policies to reinvent Nigerian economy and ensure sustainable decent jobs for the youths.