The Vice President, Prof. Yomi Osinbajo, on Saturday reaffirmed the position of the Federal Government that the country’s currency will not be devalued in spite of pressures to act otherwise.
But a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Joseph Sanusi, replied that delaying the devaluation was akin to postponing the evil day.
The positions were taken at a town hall meeting which Osinbajo held with his neighbours in Victoria Garden City on the Lekki-Epe axis of Lagos, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
Osinbajo, who insisted that devaluation was not on the table, said the CBN would operate in line with the speech delivered by President Muhammadu Buhari after he was elected to come up with flexible exchange rate to be supported by strong monetary policies.
He said the foreign exchange policy of government was to stop unnecessary consumption of imported goods and promote local manufacturing.
Osinbajo also said government met a falling revenue profile in May 2015, which was down by about 70 per cent, compared to the same period of the preceding year.
He also said in spite of the high cost of about $22 to produce a barrel of crude oil now selling at about $33, no fewer than 38 per cent of the foreign reserve was spent on importing petroleum products.
The vice president further said the previous administration was spending about N20bn on food importation annually, which reduced the nation’s foreign reserve drastically from about $40bn to about $25bn.
As a result, he said, the present administration was bent on diversification of the economy from crude oil to agriculture and solid minerals.
Osinbajo said the focus on agriculture was to make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice, poultry and palm oil production as well as develop the entire agriculture value chain to create wealth and jobs for the teeming youth.
However, Sanusi, a VGC resident, advised the government to either devalue the currency or stop the confusion between the official and parallel market exchange rates.
He said allowing an official rate at N197 per dollar, while the parallel market sold for over N300, was distractive.
“Naira is already devalued and government not accepting it is postponing the evil day,” Sanusi said.
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