The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says the restriction on official foreign exchange for importation of 41 items in 2015 was to reverse the multiple challenges of dwindling foreign reserves, contracting gross domestic product (GDP), curb growing unemployment and protect the economy.
The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, who stated this in his keynote address at the opening of the 26th annual seminar for Business Editors and Finance Correspondents in Lokoja, Kogi State, said the policy was pivotal to the country’s economy pulling out of recession in 2017.
He said following the implementation of the protectionist policy, which prioritised the supply of dollars to critical sectors of the economy to provide inputs to sustain production, real GDP grew by 1.40 per cent in the third quarter of 2017.
The GDP, which contracted to about -2.34 per cent in July 2016, began the initial growth from -1.73 per cent in late 2016 to -0.93 in the first quarter of 2017 before the first positive growth of 0.72 in the second quarter of the year.
Since then, the country’s economy has remained on the growing trajectory, with GDP rising to about 2.11 per cent in the first quarter of 2018, the highest since 2015, before the recent blip to about 1.95 per cent in April and further slip to 1.5 per cent in July.
The CBN governor said, since the introduction of the policy, the country’s foreign reserves grew from about $32.49 billion as at the third quarter of 2017 to almost $48 billion in the first quarter of 2018, before dropping to the current $42.72 billion at the end of the third quarter 2018.