The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday threatened to suspend the account of any person hiding under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme to sabotage the federal government’s investment in reviving the palm oil sector.
The Governor of the Bank, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, made this known during the inauguration of the Edo oil palm programme in Benin.
Emefiele also threatened that accounts of corporate entities including their cronies and supply chain enablers involved in smuggling palm oil and its products into the country would also be suspended.
He said the Nigerian palm oil industry was at a crossroad adding that, the economy continued to be threatened by inadequate local production and continued reliance on imports.
He noted that the CBN under its Oil Palm Development and Expansion Initiative, had so far disbursed over N30 billion to the oil palm sector.
He said the disbursement was being monitored to ensure efficient and effective utilisation and maximum output while oil majors and apex associations are being encouraged to adopt the Out-Grower Scheme.
According to him, faced with this stark reality, the CBN decided to intervene with a view to changing the narrative and to reposition agriculture as the mainstay of the Nigerian economy.
“The journey to revive the oil palm sector began with the discovery that over $500 million of our scarce foreign exchange was being expended on the importation of palm oil to meet identified unmet demand gap of 1.25 million metric tons.
“The country’s total domestic palm oil demand and consumption stood at 2.5 million with local production capacity of 1.25 million metric tons only,” he said.