By Abdallah el-Kurebe, Editor
The General Secretary of National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) and NEC member of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Issa Aremu has commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for its recent ban on sale of Foreign Exchange (FOREX) to importers of textiles into the Country.
This is contained in a statement issued and made available to Newsdiaryonline Wednesday.
The CBN had Tuesday at its meeting with stakeholders in the Cotton, Textile, Garment value chain in Abuja last week listed all forms of textile materials among items prohibited from foreign exchange in the official windows.
The apex bank also 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 produce high quality textile materials for the local and export market.”
The labour leader who was the Labour Party governorship Candidate in Kwara state during the concluded state elections, observed that more than ever, the CBN has commendably financed development in Nigeria under the leadership of Mr. Godwin Emefiele citing anchor rice borrowers scheme that has improved rice sufficiency in the country.
He observed that smuggling and wholesale importation of textiles contributed to the closure of many textile industries in the past.
He equated smuggling to what he called “economic terrorism” adding that the new initiative of the CBN governor would boost local production, create jobs and lessen pressure on forex if fully implemented.
The Union salutes the creativity of CBN on the dollars restrictions on some goods Nigeria could produce at home including Textiles.
The CBN Governor had said the decision was critical towards reviving the moribund sector and creating jobs for Nigerians.
The apex bank governor disclosed that the country currently spends over $4 billion annually on imported textiles and ready-made clothing which is unacceptable.
The governor also said the CBN would craft adequate measures to deal with the menace of smuggling, which had often threatened efforts towards self-sufficiency.
According to him, CBN will make life difficult for smugglers.
He warned all FX dealers in the country to desist from granting any importer of textile material access to foreign currency in the Nigerian foreign exchange market.
It will be recalled that in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, 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 textile industry was the largest employer of labour after the public sector, contributing over 25 per cent of the workforce in the manufacturing sector.
The industry was supported by the production of cotton by 600,000 local farmers across 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states.
The sector supported the clothing needs of the Nigerian populace, local markets were filled with locally produced textiles from companies such as United Textiles in Kaduna, Supertex Limited, Afprint, International Textile Industry (I.T.I), Texlon, Aba Textiles, Asaba Textile Mills Ltd, Enpee and Aswani Mills amongst several others.
In recent times, many of the textile employers have had to lay off employees while most of the factories mentioned have all stopped operations, leaving 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.
Comrade Aremu commended the CBN for all the creative measures to stimulate domestic production, put a stop to factory closures and create new jobs, pointing out that as a developing economy Nigeria needs creative monetary policies and development financing that could boost industrialization.
He called on the Federal government to complement the development financing of the CBN through fiscal, industrial and labour market policies to reinvent Nigerian economy and ensure sustainable decent jobs for the youths.