…As Expert says Forex ban on maize importation will increase cost of livestock feeds***
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), says it has so far funded 20 projects valued at N26.278 billion under the N100 billion credit support intervention for the health sector.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele disclosed this during the inauguration of the Body of Experts (BoE) for Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme in Abuja on Monday.
The CBN had introduced a N100 billion credit support intervention for companies in the Health and Pharmaceutical sector in the country.
Emefiele explained that some of the firms that had been able to obtain funding included hospitals, research centres and pharmaceutical industries.
He said that the primary challenges in Nigeria’s healthcare sector were inadequate funding, poor medical infrastructure and supplies, and inequitable distribution of health workers.
According to him, these problems contributed to the rise in medical tourism.
He said the programme was CBN’s proactive measures to cushion the impact of COVID -19 on the economy and to support the growth of the healthcare sector.
The CBN governor noted that the intervention fund would help improve healthcare delivery capacity while supporting improved production of health-related products and services.
Emefiele said to address the health challenges, the apex bank had also initiated the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme (HSRDIS) to develop vaccines and drugs for infectious diseases.
Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, the Director-General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) was appointed to head the body of experts which comprised academics and health experts.
In another development, an Agricultural Economist, Mr Nnamdi Infenkwe, says the ban on access to foreign exchange (Forex) for importers and dealers of maize/corn will lead to an unprecedented rise in the cost of livestock feeds.
Infenkwe, a Senior Manager with Nissi Agro-allied Services, highlighted in Lagos on Monday that the development might be the bane of the sector.
“About 60 percent of the ingredients used in preparing livestock feed in the country are got from imported maize/corn.
“Sustaining this policy will put a lot of local producers of feeds out of business,’’ he said.
Infenkwe said that the CBN should have given a specific timeline before coming out with the policy of restricting foreign exchange for maize imports.
“We expect the apex bank to have consulted widely with dealers before announcing the ban.
“They ought to give us about two or more years before implementing this policy because the livestock sector is a fragile one,” he said.
He noted that the restriction on foreign exchange for dealers of maize could be antithetical to the growth of livestock business in the country.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had directed all authorised dealers to immediately discontinue the processing of ‘Form M’ for maize/corn importation into the country.
This directive was contained in a notice given to authorised dealers and signed by Dr O. S. Nnaji, CBN’s Director in charge of Trade and Exchange Department.
In the notice made available to the public, the CBN gave some reasons for the directive to discontinue maize importation.