The General Secretary, National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, Mr Issa Aremu, has commended the Central Bank of Nigeria for banning the sale of foreign exchange to textile importers.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the CBN had on March 5, banned the sale of forex to importers of textiles into the country at a meeting with stakeholders in the cotton, textile, and garment value chain in Abuja.
The CBN listed all forms of textile materials among items prohibited from foreign exchange in its official windows.
It promised a financial intervention to textile manufacturers with the provision of funds at single digits rate to refit, retool and upgrade their factories to enable them to produce high-quality textile materials for the local and export market.
Aremu, who is also a National Executive Council member of Nigeria Labour Congress, gave the commendation on Thursday in Abuja.
He observed that more than ever, the CBN had commendably financed development in Nigeria under the leadership of Mr Godwin Emefiele, citing the anchor rice borrowers’ scheme that had improved rice sufficiency in the country.
He said smuggling and wholesale importation of textiles contributed to the closure of many textile industries in the past.
Aremu, however, described smuggling as an economic terrorism, adding that the new initiative of the CBN would boost local production, create jobs and lessen the pressure on forex if fully implemented.
The labour leader commended the creativity of the CBN on the dollar restrictions on goods Nigeria could produce at home including textiles.
According to Aremu, the CBN governor said the decision was critical toward reviving the moribund sector and creating jobs for Nigerians.
Emefiele disclosed that the country was spending over $4bn annually on imported textiles and ready-made clothing, which he said was unacceptable.
He said the CBN would craft adequate measures to deal with the menace of smuggling, which had often threatened efforts toward self-sufficiency.
Aremu warned all forex dealers in the country to desist from granting any importer of textile material access to foreign currency in the Nigerian foreign exchange market.
He recalled that in the 1970s and early 1980s, Nigeria was home to Africa’s largest textile industry with over 180 textile mills in operations, which employed close to over 450,000 people.
The labour leader said the industry was supported in the production of cotton by 600,000 local farmers across 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states, among others.
He said that in recent times, many of the textile employers had to lay off employees, while most of the factories mentioned had all stopped operations.
“This has left only 25 textile factories in operation presently and operating below 20 per cent of their production capacities with total workforce of less than 20,000 people,” he said.
Aremu commended the CBN for all the creative measures to stimulate domestic production, which would put a stop to factory closures and create new jobs.
He said that as a developing economy, Nigeria needed creative monetary policies and development financing that could boost industrialisation.
He called on the Federal Government to complement the development financing of the CBN through fiscal, industrial and labour market policies to re-invent the Nigerian economy and ensure sustainable decent jobs for the youths.