There are indications that Nigerian banks are solidly behind the Federal Government’s efforts at returning Nigeria’s economy back to stability.
At the Bankers Committee Meeting held last week, managing directors of banks and top officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), reiterated their desire to support the economy recovery drive of the Buhari’s administration.
Mr. Charles Kie , Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, said what the bankers committee was the need for all the banks to continue supporting the economy and ensure that they can effectively help the country get out the recession.
His words: “All the measures that have been taken are meant to support the banking industry, take a strong view on the level of support they want to bring ,and we are all committed to the decision that have been taken in terms of improving the FX market ,and also on the decision that has been taken on ensuring that fraudsters are, going forward, not only identified and taken out of the system in order to ensure there is sustainability in the banking industry”.
Mr. Ahmed Abdullahi, Director, Banking Supervision Department, CBN, said the recent development in the forex market has led to prices turning downwards and convergence of rates and the positive effect of that on the economy.
“We have seen inflation trending downwards. There is a forecast that by the second quarter of this year the economy will be out of recession and we are going to see positive growth.
“The fact is that the CBN has the arsenal on its war chest to be able to sustain what is happening in the forex market. That is why CBN recently introduced new windows for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to access forex through their banks with minimum documentation. There is need for public to know the existence of the window and SMEs should go to their banks to access the window to improve their business.
Mr. Michael Larbie, the Chief Executive Officer Rand Merchant Bank, said the new SME window which the CBN opened is for the SMEs to approach their banks and obtain the Form Q and apply with minimum documentation is quite encouraging. I think that will help the SMEs to raise the necessary FX to support their activities.
“In line with that, the baking community is committed to further ensuring forex is available for all legitimate personal and business travel. As a result the banks now are committed to having travel desk and cubicles in most of his branches appropriate exchange rate will be duly published so that anyone that walks in an requires business travel allowance”, Larbie said.
Issac Okorafor, CBN’s Acting Director of Communication said: “What drove the economy to recession firstly is the very acute foreign exchange crunch with limited production, and secondly the fact that oil could not flow due to militancy in the Niger Delta and of course the price of oil fell drastically. Those are some of the issues.
“Now stability has been restored in the Niger delta and we have every hope it would continue that way. So, production and oil supply has increased and the price of oil has stabilized not as much as we want it in the international market.
“We also have significantly eased the problems of manufacturers and SMEs in the forex market. There is greater supply now and we have been able to ease off these fraudulent demands for foreign exchange. More importantly, agric production has greatly improved which is impacting on food prices because they have been encouraged greatly by CBN anchor borrower program. So the collective actions of all these actions no doubt point to a direction to growth and you can see inflation has come down.
“We strongly believe that the economy is on its way out of the recession”.