NEC demands review of foreign exchange policy

The National Economic Council (NEC) on Thursday asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to urgently review its foreign exchange policy.

The NEC chaired by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo noted that the current exchange rate which had adversely affected the prices of goods and services in the country is no longer able to be maintained.

Naira presently exchanges for N510 to one Dollar.

The Deputy Governor of Nassarawa State, Mr Silas Aghara, who was joined by his Rivers State counterpart, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and Minister of Agriculture, Mr Audu Ogbeh, briefed State House correspondents at the end of NEC meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He also disclosed that the CBN’s Governor, Godwin Emefiele pleaded for time, patience and understanding of Nigerians in reviving the economy.

He said: “After a brief presentation on Forex Policy options by the CBN Governor, Council members generally expressed concern over the current situation of the exchange rate and called for an urgent review of the current Forex Policy, especially the gap between interbank and the parallel market rates.

“The CBN Governor sued for patience and understanding, assuring that the situation is being closely managed.

“At today’s council, we were only trying to encourage the CBN governor that given the general outcry in the country so that they can show understanding and patience with the CBN governor in what he is doing to revive the economy. Generally, we support the position of the CBN and we are calling on Nigerians to equally show understanding in what they are doing,” he said

Adeosun disclosed that the sum of $250 million was approved by NEC to be injected into the Sovereign Wealth Funds, SWF.

She said that the approval was made after adopting the report and accounts of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority presented by the Managing Director, Mr Uche Orii.

Adeosun also hinted that the Excess Crude Accounts where the $250 million would be sourced stood at 2,458,382,844.03 as at February 15, 2017.

She said: “Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr Uche Orii presented a report to Council on the NSIA annual reports and accounts for the year ended 2015 and update on 2016 activities.

“In its report to NEC, Council members were informed that Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Fund (NSWF) has the highest ranking in Africa in terms of performance and capitalization.

“The report highlights, among others, the following: Financial performance 2014 to Q3 2016; Update and investment strategy on the NSIA; Future Generation Fund (FGF); NSIA infrastructure strategy and Agriculture Fund and NSIA – Old Mutual Real Estate Co-Investment Vehicle, among others.

NSIA outlook, among others, are as follows: NSIA plans to increase domestic infrastructure investment in 2017 as there are compelling opportunities in the environment.

NSIA will also focus on “Social Infrastructure” including investments in the form of affordable housing and healthcare through the development of specialist hospitals.

“Council while adopting the report of the NSIA decided to inject a fresh $250 million into the SWF sourced from the ECA.

“Minister of Finance reported to the Council that the balance in Excess Crude Account (ECA) stood at USD 2,458,382,844.03 as at February 15, 2017.”

Adeosun also told reporters that approval was given for appointments of members on the Board of Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority.

“Minister of Finance reported that a member each from the six geo-political zone has been nominated as follows: North-East  –  Mrs Halima Buba – Non-Executive Director, North West – Mr Bello Maccido – Non-Executive Director,
North Central – Ms Lois Laraba Machunga-Disu – Non-Executive Director, South West – Mr Babajide Zetilin – Non-Executive Director,
South East – Mr Urum Kalu Eze – Non-Executive Director, South-South – Mr Abue Ighodalo – Legal Practitioner with 10
years post qualification experience.

“Council members unanimously adopted the nominations for onward consideration by the President for his final approval.”

Giving updates on the budget support loan, she said that eight accounting firms had been contracted to start the verification process even as she said that the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma gave highlights of the plans to recover the economy.

“Minister of Finance reported that Eight Accounting Firms have been appointed to start the verification process of the monthly Budget Support Loan Facility based on the approved Fiscal Sustainability Plan by the States.

“Minister of Budget and National Planning assured the Council members that Federal Government has a recovery plan that will take Nigeria out of the woods.

“Consultations on the plan are ongoing to firm-up the plan with clear roles for all the stakeholders and the States.

“He told the Council that the plan addresses the following: Agriculture and food security; Energy sufficiency-power and petroleum availability; Improving transportation infrastructure; Industrialisation, SMEs, and manufacturing; Stabilisation of the macroeconomic environment,” she said.

On his part, Ogbeh said that the Council was informed of the massive wheat production in the States of Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi and Zamfara among others.

He said “States, however, appealed to the Federal Government to make plans for the purchase of excess wheat to ensure price stability and sustainable production.

“Council agreed to discuss and make adequate buy-back arrangements in order to support price stability.”

NEC had also on Thursday held a valedictory session for the Ondo State Governor Olusegun Mimiko who was attending the meeting for the last time as his tenure expires next week.

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