The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) on Thursday said the ban on foreign exchange (forex) allocation to food imports would benefit the economy if well implemented.
The National Publicity Secretary of the association, Stanley Ezenga, made the statement in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
He was reacting to Tuesday’s directive by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to halt allocation of foreign exchange for food imports.
Buhari, who gave the directive while hosting some governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in his hometown, Daura, Katsina State, said the directive was to achieve steady increase in agricultural production.
He said apart from helping to promote food sufficiency, the step was also to conserve foreign exchange for use to diversify the economy.
Ezenga said the directive, if well carried out, would help promote food sufficiency, conserve scarce foreign exchange and ultimately help to grow the economy.
He, however, urged the Federal Government to give details about the food items that were affected by the ban, warning that a blanket ban would hurt the economy.
“The ban will no doubt help the economy in terms of improving our balance of trade and conservation of foreign reserves.
“But then, a blanket ban would have a great impact at this moment, considering the conflicts between farmers and herders lately which have threatened access to food items for industrial use.
“Therefore, the question to ask is, what categories of food items are affected by the ban?
“The government did not give details and stakeholders are at a loss. We need clarification so that we can be guided as critical stakeholders in international trade. As it is now, everything is sketchy,” he said.
On how the ban would affect freight forwarders, Ezenga said the ban would naturally reduce volume of cargo at the ports, meaning less business for freight forwarders.
He, however, said the economic interest of the country was more important, saying the interests of freight forwarders should be secondary to those of the country.
“Yes, the volume of cargo would be reduced by the ban and our people would have less jobs but that is not a problem so long it favours the economy.
“We as freight forwarders live in the economy and if the economy is growing we are happy. It is not about our short-term interests, it is about the country. We only hope the restriction would be done in such a way that the desired objectives are achieved,’’ he said.