- Recovers N50bn excess charges for banks’ customers
- Set to tackle problem of lower denominations, mutilated notes
Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has so far released N43.92 billion to farmers under its Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) through 13 participating institutions.
Over 200,000 small holder farmers from 29 states of the federation have also benefited and about 233,000 hectares of farmland cultivated, with eight commodities, including rice, wheat, maize, cotton, soya beans, poultry, cassava and groundnuts as well as fish farming.
CBN’s Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, who represented the Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, at the bank’s special day at the ongoing 12th Abuja International Trade Fair, said so far, there has been a quantum leap in local production of most of the commodities contained in the list of 41 items not illegible for official foreign exchange allocation or access in the country.
According to him, “The success achieved through the policy had resulted in many Nigerians consuming what we produce and producing what we consume.
“Reports from the real sector operators also indicate that some companies had grown in geometric progression as a result of the policy.
“The bank has also continued to fund the foreign exchange window in a bid to stabilise the naira, which I am sure, you are all witnesses to the near convergence in the foreign exchange market.”
The present crude oil marked realities and its non-impressive global future, he stated, had naturally focused the bank’s to non-oil exports as viable means of attaining self-sufficiency.
“Let me make bold to say that attaining self-sufficiency in our country’s through non-oil exports is achievable and that is why the CBN has been actively rolling out various intervention schemes,” he said.
The schemes include the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF), N200 billion Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS), N200 billion and the SME Restructuring & Refinancing Facility (SMERRF),
Others, he said, are SMEs Credit Guarantees Scheme (SMECGS), N300 billion Power and Airline Intervention Fund (PAIF), N220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF) as well as the MSME Development Fund and Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), among others.
Responding to questions from the audience, Okorafor said CBN’s introduction of the ABP in less than two years had increased local rice production by two million metric tons, bringing local production to about four million metric tons.
He promised that by next year, the bank would add another two million metric tons, and ultimately meet over six million metric tons local consumption requirement.
Okorafor disclosed that the bank would next week unveil a commercial agricultural scheme which would involve 10,000 youths nationwide.
The essence, he said, was to replace the ageing population of farmers, who are mostly in their sixties in order not to allow a vacuum when the aged can no longer farm.
On another question on what the bank was doing to cut down interest rate, Okorafor stated that a major determinant of interest rate was infrastructure, noting that this was the major reason why the CBN was involved in intervention programmes across various sectors.
According to him, the aim was to bridge the infrastructure gap consequent upon which interest rate would begin to decline, pointing out however that none of the bank’s facilities attracts an interest rate above nine per cent (all costs inclusive).
On the problem of mutilated currencies still in circulation, he said the apex bank was doing something to address it.
He, however, noted that the problem was both from Nigerians’ attitude to handling the local currency as well as the failure of commercial banks to sort out mutilated currencies and bring same to the CBN for destruction.
He also assured that the CBN would soon address the scarcity of lower currency denominations, which had generated a lot of complaints by Nigerians who transact businesses.
Okorafor said it costs so much to print money, and advised Nigerians to learn to handle the naira with care and dignity.
On the issue of consumer protection, he said the Consumer Protection Department of the CBN had in the last three years recovered over N50 billion for banks’ customers, who had been subjected to overcharges y the banks.
He said the CBN has a Customer Bill of Rights and urged them to access the bank’s website and read up the “Guide to Bank Charges in order to know their rights with a view to guardin against being overcharged by banks.