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Omicron: Be prepared for ‘hurtful’ policies, Emefiele tells banks

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Central Bank of Nigeria's (CBN) governor Godwin Emefiele

•Urges financial institutions to enhance lending to boost growth

•CBN disburses N370bn targeted credit facility to households, MSMEs

•Sanwo-Olu commends bankers’ committee’s COVID-19 response

Following the renewed threat of the COVID-19 occasioned by the new Omicron variants, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele has said banks should be prepared for policies that could upset their quest to make more profit for their shareholders.

Speaking in Lagos yesterday, he also appealed to members of the Bankers’ Committee to be prepared to lend their support to the country whenever the need arises as they did in the past under the umbrella of CACOVID.

This is just as he revealed that the CBN through its Target Credit Facility (TCF) had disbursed a total of N370 billion to households as well as micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) in line with efforts to stimulate economic activities.

Emefiele said these at the 12th Annual Bankers’ Committee retreat with the theme: ‘Building Resilience for Economic Growth.’

The CBN had as part of efforts to cushion the devastating effects of the COVID-19 on households and firms introduced the TCF in March 2020, which has since attracted 800,000 beneficiaries till date with an outstanding of N30 billion still available for disbursement.

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“Yes, the economy is growing, inflation is moderating, we are beginning to see signs even in the midst of the third or the fourth pandemic, but I must say that whereas we see the green light at the end of the tunnel, I must say that the road ahead for us to get to the green light remains very rough.

“We will continue to crave your support to work with us because we will continue to come up with policies that in your own boardrooms you will find hurtful to your own quest to make more profit for your shareholders,” he said.

Emefiele who thanked members of the Bankers’ Committee said: “When COVID-19 broke, we called on the banks under the umbrella of CACOVID and the banking industry stood strong with the private sector and we did the little we could to help our country and to help our people to overcome the challenges of COVID-19.

“The banking industry constitutes a very important segment of the monetary policy and of government, even from textbooks that we have read in economics, banks constitute what we can call catalysts to growth in any economy.

“We called on you, we did several things appealing to you, it got to a point where I was beginning to appeal to say, look, how can we have a situation where the banking industry is growing, the banks are declaring profit but the economy is not growing well, or that our people are living in destitution and that it is not possible for us as bankers to live a comfortable life and yet in the midst of destitution and problems in our country.

“We did call on you and you rose to the occasion and you supported. I thank you, sincerely. I cannot say that central bank did this alone, everything that we have done since February 2020, realising your importance as a catalyst to growth in the economy has been with your support, I thank you.

“I must say, yes, the economy is growing, yes, inflation is moderating, yes, we are beginning to see signs even in the midst of the third or the fourth pandemic, but I’m most say that whereas we see the green light ahead of us at the end of the tunnel, but I must say that the road ahead for us to get to the green light at the end of the tunnel remains very, very rough.

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“We will continue to count that you rely and work with us to say that it’s not just about you making profit for your shareholders but it is also about you contributing to the growth of our economy even where there are some discomforts, you will play your part, stand strong and support the government and support the Central Bank of Nigeria to deliver a stronger and resilient economy.”

Also, Emefiele, while addressing participants at the retreat called on banks to enhance credit to critical sectors of the economy, stressing the need for the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to rise above five per cent annually, higher than its present average growth rate of 2.7 per cent.

Emefiele said: “Given our mandate to promote a sound monetary and financial system, and working with the fiscal authorities, the CBN took unprecedented measures to contain the effects of the pandemic on our economy and spurred increased productivity in key sectors.

“First, the CBN collaborated with the fiscal authorities to formulate strong policy support measures through the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) to restore stability and catalyse growth.

“In support of the recovery efforts, the bank deployed more than N3.5 trillion, which is about 4.1 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP, to support critical sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, electricity, and construction. Other CBN policy measures that we took to help the economy recover included a reduction of the monetary policy rate from 13.5 percent to 11.5 percent to spur lending.

“The reduction of the interest rate on all CBN intervention loans from nine per cent to five per cent, extension of the moratorium on principal repayments for CBN intervention facility to March 2022, regulatory forbearance for banks to restructure loans to sectors severely affected by the pandemic and creation of a N400 billion TCF for households and small and medium enterprises. Of this, nearly N370 billion has been released to over 800,000 beneficiaries.”

Speaking further, the Emefiele also pointed out that a N1 trillion facility for local manufacturing and production in critical sectors of the economy was also established. On this, so far, 53 manufacturing, 21 agriculture-related, and 13 service projects had been funded from this facility.

In addition, he reiterated that a N200 billion healthcare intervention fund for pharmaceutical companies and healthcare practitioners was also established in the wake of the pandemic, to expand and strengthen the capacity of the country’s healthcare institutions and mobilise.

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Furthermore, he disclosed that the CBN mobilised key stakeholders in the Nigerian economy, under the Private Sector Coalition Against Covid-19 (CACOVID) team that raised N39.65 billion to tackle the scourge.

“Continued implementation of efforts to boost credit to productive sectors is required to sustain the recovery, quicken growth, and improve the livelihood of Nigerians.

“With population growth at about 2.7 percent annually, it is important that we continue to deploy measures that will enable our economy to attain faster and balanced growth rates of over 5 percent on an annual basis.

“In furtherance of these efforts and given current global realities, I enjoin and challenge this Bankers’ Committee Retreat to focus on fashioning out strategies to fortify the fabric of the Nigerian economy, boost growth and engender resilience especially to exogenous shocks.

“To spur growth, we will need to assess policy measures that can address subsisting imbalances and constraints to finance. This retreat should provide actionable steps to ensure that the Bankers’ Committee continue to make meaningful contributions to Nigeria’s growth and development,” he added.

Also, the CBN Governor outlined some of the policies the apex bank has undertaken in recent time to support the federal government in its job-creation as well as economic diversifican drive.

The he listed to include the 00 for 100 Initiative, under which targeted credit of up to N5 billion would be provided to 100 firms every 100 days.

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Selected firms would be those investing in Greenfield projects, significantly able to create employment opportunities, and use local raw materials. The initiative will also support firms producing goods for the export market.

“On the growth of the digital economy, the CBN is focused on building a robust payment system in Nigeria which is cheap, fast, efficient, and safe. With the growing pace of digitalisation globally, we will continue to leverage digital channels in fulfilling this objective.

“Reflective of the confidence in our payment system, between 2015 and 2020, about $700 million has been invested in firms run by Nigerian founders,” he added.

“The eNaira which is the first central bank digital currency in Africa and one of the first in the world, the eNaira will foster greater financial inclusion using digital channels, support cross-border payments for businesses and firms, and provide a reliable channel for remittance inflows into the country.

“The eNaira will ensure that Nigerians in remote areas can conduct financial activities using their digital devices at little or no cost,” Emefiele said.

In his address at the retreat, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu commended the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee over their policy response and monetary support to spur growth in the economy as well as in fighting the pandemic.

Sanwo Olu said: “I’m expecting that the retreat is not only strategic by providing a platform for all of you to review the various monetary policies and all the intervention program and to provide an opportunity for you to know what the New Year would have for all of us.

“It’s also very appropriate that at this time I commend and thank the leadership of the CBN and Bankers’ Committee in the way and manner that you’ve all stood up and addressed this challenging situation.”

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NMDPRA seals 16 gas plants, arrests five suspects in Edo

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The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has sealed 16 illegal gas facilities in Edo State.

Some filling stations were also sealed over an alleged breach of rules and regulations.
The agency arrested five suspects during the exercise.
The agency’s state comptroller, Ebi Ogionwo, said the clampdown was to curb the activities of illegal and unlicensed oil and gas operators in the state.
He alleged that some misguided operators were setting up oil and gas facilities in areas not suitable for the business and without necessary approval from the agency.
Ogionwo said, “It is an offence for anyone to site such facilities without due approval from the NMDPRA. The agency is out to bring sanity to the operations of midstream and downstream petroleum business in the state.”

He further warned investors against taking laws into their hands by setting up gas and petroleum facilities in areas not approved by the agency.

Ogionwo said five suspects arrested during the exercise would be charged to court.

“There are laws, guidelines and regulations that people must follow before setting up oil and gas facilities. So, the purpose of the operations is also to check the level of compliance by those who have set up these facilities in the state and take necessary actions that are required,” he said.

Ogionwo added that the illegal operations of oil and gas facilities compromised the safety of lives, property, environment as well as deprived both the state and Federal Governments of the revenue that should accrue to them through taxes and other sources.

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Lagos suspends RTEAN activities, sets up caretaker committee

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The Lagos State Government has suspended all activities of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) in the state.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Sola Giwa, who announced the suspension, said the action became imperative following some pockets of violence recorded in Ojo and Lagos Island on Wednesday.

Already, he said a 35-man caretaker committee had been constituted to take over activities of the union.

The caretaker committee is headed by Sulaiman Adeshina Raji, with Bamgbose Oluseyi as deputy chairman and members are Sunday Aransiola, Sulaiman Onabanjo, Azeez Abdulrahman, Isiaka Seriki, Victor Ifemenam, Kareem Babatunde, Amusan Abdulrahman, Teslim Adeshina, Sulaiman Surajudeen and Fatai Rauf.

Others are Sunday Banjo, Segun Omole, Thomas Akinkayode, Taiwo Lasisi, Gbenga Kashimawo, Samson Ajala, Taiwo Daodu, Sule Aliu, Ahmed Musa and Oladipupo Ibrahim. Adewale Adeniyi, Olatunji Durojaiye, Wasiu Olanrewaju, Taofeek Onileola, Yusuf Afolabi, Bode Ogungbade, Alh. A.A. Ussaini, Saliu Usman, Saheed Badru, Kolawole Yusuf, Kayode Thomas, Idowu Oyewole and Salami Babatunde Ope, are to also join them.

Giwa reiterated that suspension became necessary to prevent further acts of violence in the state, stressing that men of the Lagos State Police Command would be deployed in different parts of the state to enforce the action and ensure safety of lives and property.

He said the state government met with some representatives of the RTEAN on Wednesday, following a protest by some members of the union demanding the removal of their national president, adding the government had assured them of a thorough investigation into the allegations levelled against the union’s president with a promise to resolving all lingering issues.

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Ade.Ojo hails Mandilas GM @60, says Toyota family proud of you

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Celebrant GM Mandilas, Kemi Koyejo; Chairman of Toyota Nigeria, Chief Michael Ade.Ojo, and his wife, Taiwo Ade.Ojo, at Kemi's 60th birthday in Lagos

The Founder of Toyota Nigeria Limited, TNL, Chief Michael Ade Ojo, has described the General Manager of Mandilas Motors, Ms. Kemi Koyejo as a performer, who takes her job very seriously.

Chief Ade Ojo, who spoke at the MUSON Centre, Lagos during the 60th birthday ceremony of Koyejo as the chairman of the occasion, showered encomiums on the GM for her contributions towards driving Toyota brand sale and development in Nigeria.

He said, “Olukemi is a performer, a wonderful lady, who takes her job very seriously. She is “Lady Toyota”. She never misbehaves and I want to pray that God should continue to bless you the more.”

Chief Ade Ojo, who recalled that Kemi’s father was his senior in high school, expressed no surprise at  Kemi’s sterling performance and behaviour, given her family background.

“The Toyota family in Nigeria is very proud of you and God will continue to be with you,” he prayed.

The 84-year-old business mogul attended the event with his wife, and senior management staff of Toyota Nigeria Limited including the Managing Director, Mr. Kunle Ade Ojo.

Reiterating Chief Ade Ojo’s commendation on the Mandilas General Manager, the Managing Director of Toyota, Mr. Kunle Adeojo, also said that the Mandilas General Manager is very hard-working and has brought many ideas that have led to the growth of the Toyota brand in Nigeria.

He also used the occasion to announce that the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers has conferred on him a Fellow of the institute.

A trained engineer, Mr. Kunle Ade Ojo, has been at the helm of affairs at TNL and has taken the company to greater heights despite the challenges in the Nigeria’s auto sector.

-Vanguard

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