The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in what it described as the beginning of a “new journey”, has commenced the implementation of a set of policy actions to raise $200 billion in foreign exchange (FX) earnings from non-oil export in the next three to five years.

The target, which will be driven in partnership with the Bankers’ Committee, is inspired by the bank’s aspiration to end its role as the sole supplier of FX. The bank, through streams of coordinated activities, seeks to make the deposit money banks (DMBs) self-sufficient in meeting the FX needs of their customers by the end of this year.

The five new policies being implemented under RT200 FX Programme are Value-adding Exports Facility, Non-oil Commodities Expansion Facility, Non-oil FX Rebate Scheme, Dedicated Non-oil Export Terminal and Biannual Non-Oil Export Summit.

Introducing the scheme at the Bankers’ Committee press briefing, yesterday, Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, said the country could not continue to rely on earnings from “commodity whose production quantity and price it cannot control” to fund its import obligations. Thus, he said, efforts must be made to return to the pre-crude era when import bills were paid from non-oil commodity export earnings.

“After careful consideration of the available options and wide consultation with the banking community, the CBN is, effective immediately, announcing the Bankers’ Committee RT200 FX Programme, which stands for the Race to US$200 billion in FX Repatriation. The RT200 FX Programme is a set of policies, plans and programmes for non-oil exports that will enable us to attain our lofty yet attainable goal of US$200 billion in FX repatriation exclusively from non-oil exports, over the next 3-5 years,” Emefiele said.

Among the objectives, Emefiele said, is making deposit DMBs self-sustaining in FX operation as it was in the 1960s and 1970s when banks did not depend on the CBN to fund their FX businesses. Before the end of the year, he said, banks should be able to generate enough FX to meet the demand of the customers.

“Before or about the end of this year, we will tell them don’t come to the CBN for Dollars again. Go and generate your import funds by funding people who want to generate export proceeds. When the export proceeds come, we will fund them at five per cent. When those proceeds come, banks can sell to their customers that want millions of Dollars. But to say they will continue to come to the CBN for Dollars, we will stop that. We will stop it,” Emefiele said, stressing that relying on capital importation or oil earnings to fund importation was unsustainable.

“It is dangerous to put our hope in earnings we cannot control or earn from a source that comes in when things are good for us. But the moment they suspect that things are no longer good and when we need them the most is when they choose to leave us. We cannot as a country depend on that alone. We cannot, should not as a country, rely on that to fund our import obligations. We have to go back to the pre-crude oil period where we funded our import obligations from export earnings. Today, the journey begins. That journey to re-establish ourselves again.”

Non-oil FX Rebate Scheme, according to the governor, is a “special local currency incentive for non-oil exporters of semi-finished and finished produce who show verifiable evidence of exports proceeds repatriation sold directly into the I & E (Investors’ and Exporters’) window to boost liquidity in the market.”

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