The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has clarified its latest policy on milk importation.
The policy proposes to add milk and other diary products to the list of items banned from accessing the official foreign exchange market. CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, had said the essence of the policy is to increase investment in diary industies and ranches within the country. He said Nigeria currently spends between $1.2billion and $1.5billion annually on milk importation.
But sensing that it is being perceived as a ban, the apex bank, in a tweet on Friday, explained that it is only restricting sale of forex to those importing milk, saying it has no power to ban.
“Milk importation is NOT BANNED. CBN has no such power. All we will do is restrict sale of forex for the importation of milk. We remain ready and able to provide loans to enable investors who want to genuinely engage in milk production and create jobs for Nigerians” it tweeted.
The CBN’s position came out after former presidential candidate, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, criticised the policy using #MilkBanPolicy in a series of tweets on her Twitter handle.
Her words: “Nothing more perverse of Political Leaders and Policy Makers as Policies borne out of Vindictiveness. It appears from what the CBN said on the #MilkBanPolicy that it is a case of: “You folks rejected RUGA, here is your punishment.” What a BIG SHAME that would be.
“Often I read or hear Nigerians say: “We have good policies/laws. Our problem is lack of implementation”. How wrong they are! The bane of our failure to achieve sustained economic growth that reduced Poverty in other countries is actually, BAD…..dangerous Policies/Laws.”
“Milk consumption by Nigerians: 1.7 Million milk production in Nigeria: 600,000 tonnes. When #MilkBanPolicy happens, to avoid Scarcity which Prices Milk up and out of the reach of the Poor, Nigeria needs to immediately triple current production of milk.”
“Nigeria has the highest number of children less than 5 years with chronic malnutrition (stunting or low height-for-age) in sub-Saharan Africa at more than 11.7 million, according to the most recent Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) (National Population Commission)”
“Child Poverty is even worst in a country that holds the ignoble record of being the World’s Capital of Extremely Poor People; our President should be fleeing from Policies that escalate Poverty. The CBN #MilkBanPolicy is dangerous. Dangerous for the Poor.
Ezekwesili is however not the only one against the CBN policy. Some exonomists and Nigerians from diverse walks of life have spoken against it.
Kalu Aja, a financial planning expert on his twitter handle said a ban on forex for milk imports will make milk become more expensive locally.
His words: “Most of the cows in Nigeria processed for beef are imported. Nigeria also imports raw hides, leather and fur skins. From 2014 to 2017, Nigeria spent N1.3t on live animal imports.”
“Banning imported milk is a policy known as import substitution. I support import substitution. Imported beef is banned in Nigeria, but live cattle imports are not. An equitable policy is to ban all imports of cattle dead or alive and cattle by-products.”
“If milk is banned, will baby milk be also banned.”
“Just like banning Rice, a ban on forex for milk imports will make milk become more expensive locally. As long as local supply cannot meet local demand, there will be imports. Nigeria has no cold chain thus a ban on milk means bulk of milk produced will be powdered.”
Tunji Andrews, an economist said: “So, I’ll say it, so that it’ll be on record that it was said With Nigeria’s stunting rate at 43.6%, wasting at 10.8% and underweight children at 31.5%, the CBN’s plan to ban FX for milk importation is a bad idea. This could threaten our future, while we are concerned about now”.
“At the moment, Nigeria produces 600k tonnes of milk but consumes 1.7m tonnes annually. CBN governor is worried about the FX being used to fund the shortfall (rightly so) But what an FX ban will do, is take away the last source of fortified nutrition from poor Nigerian children”
“With the ban, N50 sachet milk will only experience what all other beverages in Nigeria experience to manage cost Quality will reduce and be blessed with more sugar to improve taste Note that’s it’s not illegal to sell unfortified milk in Nigeria as it is elsewhere”
“What we risk is building an army of physically and mentally incapable adults who may become leaders like we don’t have enough problems Right now over 40% of children in Nigeria are stunted before you say the ban will force local build-up Let me ask you With which electricity?”