The Nigerian Senate has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to relax its strict Foreign Exchange policy as it is doing more harm to the economy than good.
Senate President Bukola Saraki during a meeting with the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, IMF, Christine Lagarde said small businesses especially, are being made to suffer unnecessarily.
He called on the apex bank to introduce a more flexible foreign exchange regime and reduce the present restrictions on the autonomous market which does not allow business men to bring in foreign exchange or utilise what they have in their accounts.
The Senate President had equally canvass a similar view at a private meeting with CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele during which he implored him to consider the effects of the present forex regime on small businesses which are dying following evaporating crude oil revenue.
Saraki also told Lagarde that “The IMF should support our CBN to bring in low interest loans to SMEs. We need to encourage entrepreneurs and make most of our new graduates job creators rather than job seekers. This is an area where we need the financial support and technical assistance of the IMF.”
He explained that his office has received numerous complaints from small business owners, complaining that their businesses are being threatened by the huge bottlenecks now involved in doing business.
“As legislators, we play an important role in making our people understand IMF’s advice, policy trade-offs, consultations and other engagements, so that ownership, transparency and accountability are brought to bear on economic policy choices.
“The Nigerian legislature strongly believes that having a collaborative working relationship with the Executive Branch of government brings development closer to the people.
“Since the advent of the new administration, we have worked closely to stabilize the economy and steady the fiscal environment. This, we have indeed demonstrated by the speedy passage of the Medium Term Expenditure Frame Work (MTEF) and recently in the postponement of our recess in order to receive President Muhammadu Buhari to present the 2016 Appropriation Bill.
“The purpose of our Legislative Agenda is to enable us focus our lawmaking in areas that will help create jobs, expand our infrastructure base and make our economy work for the benefit and happiness of the majority of our people.
“Pivotal to the attainment of this overarching objective is the state of the Nigerian business environment. In collaboration with major stakeholders, the 8th Senate is presently signing a memorandum of understanding on Enhancing Nigerian Advocacy for Better Business Environment Project, a National Assembly business and investment roundtable initiative, with developmental organizations”, the Senate President said.
The Senate President used the occasion to call on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure that in reacting to recent developments in the economy, it does not devalue the Naira for the mere sake of devaluation.