The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders has urged the Federal Government to float the naira and remove the official exchange rate peg so that there will be enough supply of dollars for importers.
The Vice Chairman, NAGAFF, TinCan chapter, Mustapha Aboki, stated this, adding that the current forex policy of the government had worsened the situation at the ports and that it was time to review it.
He said, “The current forex policy should be reviewed because it is not working. The dollar rate is too high and because of that importers can no longer afford to do business. Most of them have abandoned the ports and are taking to selling goods in the shops.
“At the current dollar rate, no importer will want to put his money into the business because if he brings the goods, he will have to sell at very high price to meet up and if he does that, he will not find buyers.”
According to him, five years ago, when the dollar exchanged for less than N200, the ports were a beehive of activities, a departure from the current situation.
He said, “At that time, importers could get access to the dollars and go to the market. Not like now, very few people go to the market. That is why you see that the ports are very scanty.
“Most importers get their dollars through the parallel market and it is a little above N400 to a dollar now. If you import with that amount and come here, how much can you sell?”
When reminded that the government had been taking steps to see that dollar dropped, through frequent allocation of dollars to travellers and others, by the Central Bank of Nigeria, Aboki argued that the efforts were not yielding the desired result.
He said, “It is not enough. Even with the CBN intervention, the rate as it is now is above N400 to a dollar. That has not solved the problem. Nigeria is an import-dependent country. That is why people are suffering. In the market today, everything is being linked to the dollar, even the garri that is produced in Nigeria.
“Has the current policy helped us? The CBN knows that if it has not helped us, there is a need to review and float the naira.”
He suggested that the Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, should visit the ports and witness what operators were going through.
“They are supposed to take a walk round the ports to see what is going on so that they can have firsthand information. This cannot be done by sending delegates because some of these delegates give them false and insufficient information when they report back to the people who sent them,” he stated.