The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers’ Committee have agreed to set up a committee headed by Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of commercial banks to create a strategy that will stimulate lending in the domestic economy.
CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele broke the news yesterday at the end of the 10th Annual Bankers’ Committee retreat in Lagos.
The committee is to ensure that lenders deploy key intervention funds, including the N210 billion Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) fund, N60 billion SMEs fund from five per cent annual contribution from banks’ profits, N500 billion Export Stimulation Fund, among others, to promote credit access.
Emefiele said the move was to find ways to improve access to credit by Nigerians, especially the youths.
The CBN boss also said that where the need arises, the youths maybe asked to deposit their National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) discharge certificates, degree certificates with the banks to enable them have access to the loans.
He said: “We need to create a strategy that makes it easy for businesses to access credit. That will also make it easy for reporters to earn foreign exchange and that is why we will be setting up the committee headed by bank CEOs.”
According to him, the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee have been working closely to ensure that youths, who are doing well in the entertainment industry, information technology and software development, get access to credit.
He said the planned take-off of the National Microfinance Bank is meant to help in the disbursement of the intervention funds to borrowers.
“The National Microfinance Bank is expected to make it easier for borrowers to access loans. We want to create independent challenges from where the funds will go out from. The Microfinance banks are doing their best but they are not lending at single digit interest rate,” he said.
Continuing, he said the borrowers under the new arrangement will pay back to enable other benefit.
Emefiele went on: “We will make it easy for the youths to access the loans. They will work under the co-operative/ cluster arrangement to ensure they payback.
“Improving access to finance and addressing infrastructural impediments faced by companies geared towards the export market will confer a string benefits on the economy.
“First, it will enable firms expand their capacity, as they seek to serve a larger external market. It will also help foster inclusive growth in the economy. As you may know, the oil and gas sector currently accounts for one per cent of total employment in the country.”
He said the drop in Nigeria’s export earnings arose from reliance on crude oil, which exposed the fragility of the country’s domestic economy in 2016.
He said the development reinforced the view within the CBN and Bankers’ committee on the need to revise the country’s growth strategy as a nation.
“At certain points in our nation’s history, non-oil export represented over 90 per cent of our foreign exchange earnings. In the 60’s Nigeria was a major exporter of cocoa, palm oil, cotton, groundnut, rubber, hides and skins.
“With the discovery of crude oil, Nigeria began to rely more on oil exports as a major source of its foreign exchange, and its hare of non-oil export witnessed a precipitous decline.”
The CBN boss said that the banks needed to support the economy by lending to promote economic growth.
“We need to move money to the real sector and make credit available to those at the grassroots to foster sustainable economic growth,” he said.