Ambode charges CBN, banks on profit motives
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) stepped up its development intervention in the economy as it disclosed yesterday that N500 billion Export Stimulation Facility and N50 billion Direct Intervention Fund being under consideration for two years has fully taken off.
The move, which is a fallout of series of engagements with the exporters and banks with CBN, would be looking at boosting exports of value added products in the non oil sector- cocoa, cashew nuts, palm produce, sesame seeds, solid minerals and rubber.
Making the disclosure in Lagos yesterday, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said that while the apex bank would be working with new management of the Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), it is part of strategies to create other means of survival for the country rather than just rely on the oil.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, at the opening of the 2017 Bankers Retreat, urged CBN and banks to reduce profit considerations in every endeavor, particularly in the discussion of development financing that concerns the poor borrowers.
Ambode, who expressed worry that the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises fund by CBN, worth more than N200 billion is yet to be utilised by banks, even at nine per cent, said the state’s employment trust fund has released N10 billion at five per cent to more than 6000 people.
“If you want to activate a particular sector of the generality of Nigerians are into, shut your eyes to profit making sometimes, because it is a sector-driven strategy. If CBN says they are interventionist, and want to give money, in the form of agriculture loan, why is it still high, especially for people at the lower level?
“The banks should not forget that these funds are not commercial loans, but funds from CBN to them to act as intermediaries in behalf of the poor people. Is it every time that banks must make profit?
Comparing Kenya’s record in mobile money, the governor lamented that Nigeria’ version has been so slow to take, with the usage in particular slower, moving from 0.7 million adults in 2014 to 0.9 million in 2016.
According to him, it shows that the uptake is still very low compared to adult population of 58.2 million who had mobile phone in 2016, but pointed out that there too many competing systems and regulations in this country.
But Emefiele said that the new drive would be focused on “Produce, Add Value and Export” (PAVE), which would ensure that the products are improved before export, not just raw materials, to earn more value and create additional job.
“In this meeting today, we met with the exporters and the banks. The purpose is to see to what we can do as CBN to support the activities of exporters in the country so that through this means we can see more of exports revenues from the non oil sector to support the economy.
“We have decided to bring back to the table the N500 billion Export Stimulation Facility that we had proposed two years ago, as well as the N50 billion Direct Intervention Fund from the Nigeria Export-Import Bank. We have an improved NEXIM with new management there now and they have a very excellent track record of understanding of the private sector and the credit processes.
“We have also decided that we are going to have not just NEXIM, but CBN’s Development Finance Department, as well as the Governors Department’s Special Adviser on Agriculture to put a framework in place as to how the funds will be disbursed,” he said.
He explained that since export season is currently on, “we have given the Development Finance Department and NEXIM a maximum period of one week to come up with the framework.
“But we are going to wait till then because we have enjoined the banks and exporters to send in request through NEXIM or directly from their banks to Development Finance Department for the processing to begin because we know that this is a season for cocoa and cashew.
“For now we are not even waiting for a detailed framework, there is already an existing one. We would just update it and make it an encompassing document that covers all areas and be sure that everything is accommodated.
“But the most important thing is that we made it clear to exporters that it is an opportunity for us to create jobs and earn more export revenues, but whatever they do will be heavily monitored. Again, that the benefits expected if the intervention must be realised,” he added.