· To disburse special intervention fund to real sector at single digit
James Emejo in Abuja
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday resolved to raise the amount of weekly foreign currency which banks are authorised to sell to Bureau de Change operators (BDCs) to $50,000 from the initial $30,000.
Also, the bank said the special intervention fund drawn from banks’ cash reserves sometime ago would now be disbursed to support the real sector, particularly primary agricultural projects and core manufacturing.
The CBN said the release of the funds would ease liquidity crunch, and allow for financing of critical projects at low interest regime.
Addressing journalists on the outcome of the Bankers’ Committee meeting in Abuja, CBN Director, Banking Supervision, Tokunbo Martins, alongside other bank chief executives, said the special intervention fund had remained idle for a long time and the committee reached an agreement that it be disbursed to support the real sector.
She, however, explained that projects that would benefit from the disbursement must strictly be the ones that support import substitution and help preserve foreign exchange by ensuring that whatever was being imported before would now be manufactured in the country,
She said: “So it would only be released to those kinds of projects and not any kinds of projects. Once those funds are released, we see some ease in the industry- there will be more liquidity and important projects will be able to get financing at lower interest rate and at single digit.”
However, Group Managing Director, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Kennedy Uzoka, said following the feedback from the market, the committee decided to effect an upward review in dollar sale to BDCs.
He said the increase would make more cash available to BDCs and increase the supply which would help to drive down price.
Accessing forex had been a topical issue for Nigerians in recent times and the CBN had been evolving various methods to douse the situation.
The Managing Director, Jaiz Bank Plc, Hassan Usman, said the committee deliberated on the need to promote financial inclusion through financial literacy programmes.
He said a two-day financial literacy workshop was being planned for media practitioners in order to enhance the awareness campaign as it seeks to achieve the 80 per cent financial inclusion target by 2020.
Group Managing Director, Zenith Bank Plc, Peter Amangbo, said discussions also centred on the forthcoming 2016 World Savings Day, adding that all banks would mobilise to cover all the 774 local government areas in the country to inculcate in Nigerians, the need to save massively.