The Chairman of the presidential economic advisory council, Doyin Salami, has said that the Nigerian federal government has spent N1.85 trillion on food imports in 2020 after it closed the country’s land borders.
Mr Salami made this known at the 2021 virtual National Economic Outlook event organized by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria on Tuesday.
In August 2019, the federal government closed the nation’s land borders. The government had said that the purpose was to control the smuggling of rice, other commodities and weapons.
“Despite border closure, our national import of food amounted to N1.85 trillion between January and September 2020, a 62 per cent increase when compared to the same period in 2019,” Mr Salami said according to The Nation.
“This suggests a weakness in our ability to feed ourselves and raises the need to consider a review of intervention policies in agriculture.”
Salami expressed that there are serious climatic concerns have undermined the agricultural output of the sector. For instance, flooding impacted over two million farmers in 2019.
“Agriculture continues to decelerate growing at 1.7 per cent year to date while consumer sensitive sectors like manufacturing and distribution continue to contract in double digits,” he said.
“Nigeria’s external imbalances are increasingly precarious with continuing concern over exchange rate differentials.
“By the measure that drives the value of the Naira based on the Naira/dollar inflation differential, the currency should be trading around N439 a dollar at the official market.”
He added that foreign exchange rate convergence, market reflective rates and transparent determination mechanism balance of payment imbalances are large and remain key questions in 2021.
Salami noted that the Nigerian economy had already been fighting some pre-existing conditions ahead of the current crisis. He said conditions include slow growth and rising inflation, unemployment, poverty and pressure on corporate margins.
According to him, transport and hospitality sectors were gravely affected by the lockdowns in April/May and voluntary containment measures and the imposed restrictions post lockdown.