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Osinbajo says exchange rate is artificially low, asks CBN to bow to market forces

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Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to allow the naira reflect the realities of the market.

The national currency is changing for N411/$ at the official side of the market but N565/$ at the parallel market, which many believe is reflect of the true value.

Speaking at the midterm retreat of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second tenure, the vice-president said the exchange rate is artificially low, and this is deterring investors from bringing foreign exchange into the country.

 Osinbajo said: “As for the exchange rate, I think we need to move our rates to [be] as reflective of the market as possible. This, in my own respective view, is the only way to improve supply.

“We can’t get new dollars into the system, where the exchange rate is artificially low. And everyone knows by how much our reserves can grow. I’m convinced that the demand management strategy currently being adopted by the CBN needs a rethink, and that is just my view. Anyway, all those are issues that when the CBN governor has time to address, he will be able to address in full.”

Osinbajo suggested that the central bank is competing with the fiscal side of the economy, which includes the ministries, departments, and agencies of government.

“There must be synergy between the fiscal and the monetary authority. We must be able to deal with the synergy, we must handle the synergy between the monetary authority, the CBN, and the fiscal side.

“Sometimes, it appears that there is competition, especially on the fiscal side. If you look at some of the interventions, you will find that those interventions are interventions that should be managed by ministries.

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“The ministry of industry, trade and investment should handle MSMEs interventions, and we should know what the CBN is doing. In other words, if the CBN is intervening in the MSME sector, it should be with the full cooperation and consent of the ministry of industry. Sometimes you will get people who are benefiting more than once because we simply have no line of sight on what is going on, on one side.”

Speaking on surviving the economic challenge of 2020, Osinbajo said Buhari deserves the credit for providing steady leadership through the crisis.

According to him, “Let me say on the whole that we have been able to weather the storm of a very serious economic challenge. I think that is largely on the steady and stable leadership we received from the president. I think if Mr. President had panicked in that period, we would have had a lot of difficulties, perhaps we would be in a much worse situation.

“He deserves the commendation for providing that steady hand when that was required. We are at a point in our economic history where anything is possible if the country is willing to work together towards the same objective.”

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