- Customers using loans for Treasury Bill will be blacklisted
Kunle Aderinokun, Obinna Chima, Ndubuisi Francis, Nume Ekeghe and Nosa Alekhuogie, in Washington DC
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has vowed to impose stiffer sanctions on any commercial and blacklist customers that flout its minimum loan-to-deposit ratio (LDR) policy that is focused on increasing lending to the real sector of the economy.
The Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor, disclosed these in a chat on the sidelines of the ongoing International Monetary Fund/World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington DC, United States.
Specifically, it warned that any bank that is found to be disbursing loans to customers who subsequently invest such funds in treasury bills and other money market and capital market securities, would be sanctioned and the customer blacklisted.
There were indications that some commercial banks, in a bid to meet the earlier September 30 deadline, had disbursed loans to some customers for the purpose of purchasing treasury bills.
The central bank recently raised the minimum LDR to 65 per cent, with a December 31, 2019, up from the 60 per cent it had prescribed. The banking sector regulator recently debited 12 banks a total of N499 billion for failing to meet the September 30, 2019 deadline.
However, the CBN has since refunded some of the affected financial institutions.
The policy was to encourage lending to SMEs, retail, mortgage and consumer lending,
The CBN spokesman explained: “Any customer found arbitraging will be blacklisted, names published and the banks penalised. The essence of this is to stop arbitrage practices by the banks.
“In other to meet up the LDR policy, they are avoiding giving loans to the real sector and instead are giving loans to speculators who now go to buy treasury bills.
“The whole aim of this policy would be defeated by this kind of practice. So, the CBN will deal with any bank that tries to circumvent this policy.”
Continuing, he said: “What we are saying is that banks must lend. So we prescribed the LDR. Now that they are ready to lend and at reasonably low rates and not buying securities, people should not borrow to buy securities thereby arbitraging.”
He stressed the need to support activities that would drive economic growth in the country.
“The economy must see growth induced by higher consumer and manufacturing output. We will crack down on banks and companies that would attempt to game our policies through financial markets arbitrage.
“Nigerians have been praying for low rates. So if borrowing rates from banks are coming down, companies should take the loan to conduct their manufacturing business and not get involved in arbitrage.”