August 13, 2019 / 7:13 PM / 10 days ago

Nigerian president moves to curb spending on food imports

FILE PHOTO: Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari waves to the crowd while he drives around the venue during his inauguration for a second term in Abuja, Nigeria, May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has told the central bank to stop providing funding for food imports, his spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday.

Since Buhari first took office in 2015, Nigeria’s central bank has presided over policies aimed at stimulating growth in the agricultural sector to reduce dependence on oil. Those policies included a 2015 ban on access to foreign exchange for 41 items that the bank felt could be produced in Nigeria.

“President Muhammadu Buhari ... disclosed that he has directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop providing foreign exchange for importation of food into the country,” Tuesday’s statement said.

“The foreign reserve will be conserved and utilized strictly for diversification of the economy, and not for encouraging more dependence on foreign food import bills.”

A central bank spokesman did not immediately respond to phone calls and text messages seeking comment.

Buhari has been a vocal supporter of such restrictions and one of his first moves after his re-election in February was to reappoint the central bank governor.

Reporting by Felix Onuah and Camillus Eboh; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by David Goodman

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