Erisco receives N2bn intervention from CBN Despite Fx Crisis Claim

Despite its claim of inadequate support, a leading tomato processing firm in Lagos, Erisco Food, has received about N2billion intervention from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Eric Umeofia, Erisco’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), had said on Wednesday that over 1,500 employees could lose their jobs due to lack of support from the central bank.

“It is difficult for indigenous manufacturers to access forex despite CBN’s promise to manufacturers that they will allocate 60 per cent of foreign exchange to them,” he had said.

“It is unbelievable that for over two months, no forex has been allocated to Erisco Foods whereas the same forex is allocated daily for the importation of finished goods.

“Products that can be easily produced locally like fish head, tomato paste, razor blade are on the forex bids of the various banks.”

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However, a document on funds disbursement seen by TheCable shows that the company actually received about N2 billion within the past 24 months for “importation and installation of tomato processing lines”.

Of the N2 billion, Erisco got the latest N1 billion early in 2016, with claims to “finance” the purchase of a tomato processing machine.

Isaac Okorafor, acting director, corporate communications department of the CBN, who is currently in Washington DC for the annual meetings of the IMF/World Bank, said the CBN does not allocate forex to anyone, so the manufacturers should approach their banks for needed forex.

“By practice, we do not join issues with individuals on matters of this nature. All I can tell you is that the CBN does not allocate foreign exchange,” he said.

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“All business persons, manufacturers, traders, etc are expected to approach their respective banks to bid for and obtain foreign exchange. Whether they succeed or not is their business.

“No amount of blackmail through paid advertorial or sponsored reports could make the CBN change its policy.”

A source at one of the big five commercial banks told TheCable that Erisco may have flouted some of the guidelines given by the CBN.

The source, who craved anonymity said: “I don’t want to get into the CBN-Erisco matter, but word is going round that Erisco may have been importing fresh tomatoes.”

 

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