Workers in the textile sector of the economy have commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the recent ban on sale of foreign exchange to importers of textiles into the country.
The general secretary of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) and NEC member of NLC, Comrade Issa Aremu, said the ban was a positive step towards salvaging the comatose sector.
The CBN, on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, at its meeting with stakeholders in the cotton, textile, garment value chain in Abuja, listed all forms of textile materials among items prohibited from foreign exchange in the official windows.
The CBN also promised a financial intervention to textile manufacturers with the provision of funds at “single-digit rate, to refit, retool and upgrade their factories to enable them produce high-quality textile materials for the local and export market.”
The labour leader, who was the Labour Party governorship candidate in Kwara State during the election on March 9, said that, more than ever before, the CBN has financed development in Nigeria under the leadership of Mr. Godwin Emefiele. He cited the anchor rice borrowers scheme that has improved rice sufficiency in the country. He observed that smuggling and wholesale importation of textiles contributed to the closure of many textile industries in the past.
He equated smuggling to “economic terrorism,” adding that the new initiative of the CBN governor would boost local production, create jobs and lessen pressure on forex, if fully implemented.
The union saluted the creativity of the CBN on dollar restriction on some goods Nigeria could produce locally, including textiles.
The CBN governor had said the decision was critical towards reviving the moribund sector and creating jobs for Nigerians.
Emefiele disclosed that the country currently spends over $4 billion annually on imported textiles and ready-made clothing, which is unacceptable.
The CBN governor also said the bank would craft adequate measures to tackle the menace of smuggling, which had often threatened efforts towards self-sufficiency.
He said the CBN would make life difficult for smugglers and warned all forex dealers in the country to desist from granting any importer of textile material access to foreign currency in the Nigerian foreign exchange market.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, Nigeria was home to Africa’s largest textile industry, with over 180 textile mills in operation, which employed close to over 450,000 people. The textile industry was the largest employer of labour after the public sector, contributing over 25 per cent of the workforce in the manufacturing sector. The industry was supported by the production of cotton by 600,000 local farmers across 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states.
The sector supported the clothing needs of Nigeria, from companies such as United Textiles in Kaduna, Supertex Limited, Afprint, International Textile Industry (I.T.I), Texlon, Aba Textiles, Asaba Textile Mills Ltd, Enpee and Aswani Mills, among, several others.