Isaac Okorafor
Mr. Isaac Okorafor

Obinna Chima

In line with its drive to ramp up the country’s foreign exchange (forex) earnings, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) disclosed that henceforth, exporters that fail to repatriate their forex earnings within the stipulated time would be blacklisted from the banking system.

The acting Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, who said this while briefing journalists at the end of a Bankers’ Committee meeting in Lagos yesterday, stressed that any exporter that fails to abide by the rules would be sanctioned and would not have the opportunity to transact business with any bank.

Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs. Oluwatomi Somefu, revealed that disbursement for the N26 billion special fund that was set up by the Bankers’ Committee to provide equity contribution to SMEs particularly in the agric sector, would commence this quarter.

She said the framework for the fund would soon be developed before the end of the year.
“The Bankers committee can confirmed that this is being finalised and disbursement will commence by the end of this quarter 2017,” she explained.

According to Somefu, to further support growth of the non-oil sector, the CBN has created a special export intervention scheme, which is expected to generate additional foreign exchange to the country.

“This will be closely monitored and we expect a lot of our SMEs to benefit from this scheme. The issue we have in the past is the failure of some exporters to repatriate the foreign exchange generated, and the CBN has agreed with the Bankers Committee to sanction defaulting exporters,” she stressed.

Shedding more light on the export scheme, the CBN Director, Banking Supervision, Ahmed Abdullahi, said: “This export scheme is different from the Export Expansion Grant of the federal government. This one is a CBN initiative to boost exports, so that exporters can access the fund just like the Commercial Agricutural scheme or the Anchor Borrowers Programme. This one is that exporters can access the fund in order to boost their business.

“On the blacklisting of exporters, there is a provision in the foreign exchange manual that requires all exporters to repatriate the proceeds of their exports. The fact is that a number of exporters don’t. The Bankers Committee deliberated on that matter and felt that there is a need to sanction those exporters appropriately.”

On his part, the CEO of Union Bank, Mr. Emeka Emuwa, urged operators of small businesses to take advantage of the national collateral in order to access funding.

“Even for the banks, it makes it easier to facilitate lending to customers. So, even as we are coming out of recession, there are processes in place to facilitate small businesses, which in turn will contribute to employment generation,” Emuwa added.