By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has approved the importation of sugar into the country to only three companies.
The companies are BUA Sugar Refinery Ltd, Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, and Golden Sugar Company.
The Apex Bank said in a circular on Friday that henceforth, no company outside the three firms has been granted approval to import sugar into the country.
The circular dated 16th July, 2021 with Reference No TED/FEM/PUB/FPC/01/006 was signed by the Director, Trade and Exchange Department of the CBN, Dr O.S Nnaji.
The CBN had in April revealed plans to include sugar and wheat on the list of import items banned from accessing foreign exchange (FX).
In 2015, the apex bank had restricted 41 items from accessing foreign exchange, adding that the measure was to encourage local production of the items and conserve Nigeria’s foreign reserves.
Some of the banned items are rice, cement, margarine, palm produce, beef, vegetables, poultry and eggs, wooden doors and iron rods — including maize which was banned in 2020.
“We are looking at sugar and wheat. We started a programme on milk about two years ago. Eventually, these products will go into our FX restriction list,” Emefiele had said.
Nigeria currently spends between $600m to $1bn annually to import sugar into the country.
The Federal Government under the National Sugar Development Council established the Nigerian Sugar Master Plan to encourage and incentivize sugar refining companies in their Backward Integration Programme for local sugar production.
The circular issued by the CBN on Friday said that only the three companies have made significant progress in the Backward Integration Programme for local sugar production.
Following the restriction, the apex bank warned dealers in the foreign exchange market not to open Forms M or grant access to foreign exchange for any company without its prior and express approval.