By Nume Ekeghe
In continuation of its consultation with major stakeholders in the economy, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at the weekend met with members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
At the meeting, the Consumer Protection Department of the CBN disclosed that it had resolved over 6,000 complaints by bank customers, just as it had refunded N26.998 billion to customers whose accounts were illegally charged by their respective financial institutions as at April 2016.
Meanwhile, the NLC has commended the federal government for halting the recent lay-offs by some banks.
The Vice President, NLC, Mr. Isa Aremu, who spoke at the CBN stakeholders engagement meeting in Lagos, applauded the federal government’s stance on job safety.
Aremu said: “Very importantly one critical discussion that came up is the issue of job lay-offs in the banks and we use this opportunity to commend the ministry of labor for intervening and asking the bank to stop the ongoing lay-offs in the sector. And we have also called on CBN to use moral suasion to encourage the commercial banks.”
Continuing, Aremu while commenting on the naira devaluation debate said: “We have been together with CBN in terms of resisting the pressure to devalue the naira and we are happy that CBN under the leadership of Governor Godwin Emefiele has stood the ground to protect the naira. There were debates about the value of the naira and NLC has insisted that as a country that is import dependent, we don’t benefit anything from devaluation and above all, any devaluation would erode the purchasing power of workers.
We are happy that the CBN has kept to that fit in with the broad policy of the CBN as we’ll as the administration. We also needed clarification on what this flexible exchange rate means for us and he said the modalities are still worked out. But the bottom line is that it would not do prejudice to the value of the naira.”
He added: “We find the program very useful especially in development financing. It is very refreshing to know that CBN is intervening in energy sector, agriculture, aviation, textile were all our members have their jobs. And what CBN is doing to think outside the box because if you leave everything to market forces, most of these sectors cannot draw the kind of lock and funding that they need.”
Furthermore, on the interest rates he said: “Also we also said that the next monetary policy meeting, they have to re look at this interest rate. The monetary policy rate is about 12 per cent with others in the double-digit. It is time for CBN to know that we cannot run the real sector of the economy when the cost of funds is very high.”
Also speaking at the event, the acting Director of Communication at the CBN, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor, said: “We are here on the continuation of the CBN engagement with very key stakeholders. Today we have met organised labour, we have gathered the labor leaders and activists in Lagos. We have interacted with them on most of the programmes we are running and also on the policies we have undertaken this year.”
When asked to clarify the forex flexibility, he said the modalities have not been released, adding, “the governor has explained that we have to find a way of creating some flexibility around the foreign exchange management as it is today and the details would be realised in due course.”
On the recent retrenchment exercise by banks, he said: “The issue of job security across the country is a general issue, it is not about one industry and it is a about what our laws are saying, It is about our industry policy and what it is saying and it is in collaboration with both the ministry of labour and other stakeholders I think a solution would be found.”