March 6, 2016 / 11:02 AM / 4 years ago

Nigeria's president rejects IMF calls to lift FX curbs, end naira freeze

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks during a news conference after meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Abuja, Nigeria March 2, 2016 REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

LAGOS (Reuters) - Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has rejected calls by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to lift the West African country’s foreign exchange curbs and allow a more flexible rate for its currency.

“No,” he told pan-Arab Al Jazeera television in an interviews posted on the station’s website, when asked whether he would consider ending the fixed naira rate to the dollar and devalue the currency.

He said hard currency curbs were necessary as Africa’s top oil producer could no longer afford to import as much as it had in the past due to dwindling oil revenues.

Last month, the IMF called on Nigeria to lift the curbs imposed by the central bank last year and let the naira reflect “market forces” more closely, as the restrictions had significantly affected the private sector.

The naira trades versus the dollar on the secondary market some 40 percent below the official rate as the central bank has limited access to hard currency to preserve its falling currency reserves.

Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Mark Potter

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