Central Bank Commences Restriction of Banned Import Items

Sandra Ukele

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has commenced a wide investigation into the bank accounts of organisations involved in the unscrupulous importation of the  41 items listed as Valid for Foreign Exchange”, 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”

 Recall that CBN had in 2015 issued a directive stopping some imported goods and services from the list of items valid for forex in the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Markets. This policy implies that, those who import these items can no longer buy foreign currency from the official window to pay the overseas suppliers. Rather, they will have to source forex from the parallel market or Bureau De Change to pay for their imports.

The items include the following:Rice, Cement, Margarine, Palm kernel/Palm oil products/vegetables oils, Meat and processed meat products, Vegetables and processed vegetable products,
Poultry chicken, eggs, turkey, Private airplanes/jets, Indian incense, Tinned fish sause (Geisha/sardines), Cold rolled steel sheets, Galvanized steel sheets, Roofing sheets,Wheelbarrows,

Head pans, Metal boxes and containers, Enamelware, Steel drums, Steel pipes.
Others are Wire rods(deformed and not deformed), Iron rods and reinforcing bard, Wire mesh,
Steel nails, Security and razor wire, Wood particle boards and panels, Wood Fibre Boards and Panels, Plywood boards and panels, Wooden doors, Toothpicks, Glass and Glassware, Kitchen utensils, Tableware, Tiles-vitrified and ceramicTextiles, Woven fabrics, Clothes, Plastic and rubber products, polypropylene granules , cellophane wrappers, Soap and cosmetics, Tomatoes/tomato pastes and Eurobond/foreign currency bond/ share purchases
The government had said that these items are not prohibited or banned. It only means that importers of these items are no longer qualified to get foreign exchange from the official market to import these items.

In a related development, 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.”


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