As Nigeria grapples with the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic, 22 out of 27 banks in the country have approached the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to restructure a total of 35,640 diverse loans in order to stabilise the economy since businesses are currently facing ferocious headwinds.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, who made the disclosure in Abuja after the 274th meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the apex bank , said that the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) was retained at 12.5 per cent, while the liquidity ratio remained 30 per cent; Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) retained at to 27.5 per cent and the asymmetric corridor at +200 and -500 basis point around the MPR.
Reading the communique after the meeting, Emefiele revealed that the apex bank may increase the N50 billion household and small and medium enterprises loan to accommodate more participants.
He noted that so far, N41.195 billion out of the N50 billion has been disbursed.
He said: “There is a need to increase the facility so that more people can benefit and it will help many businesses affected by COVID-19 to get back on their feet quickly”, he said. The CBN Governor also called for an aggressive and strategic approach towards growing the economy amid the pandemic.
Emefiele also assured anxious Nigerians that the banks were not vulnerable or unhealthy despite the ravaging pandemic.
“The banks are strong and resilient. Several loans have been granted. Manufacturing sector, N850 billion; agriculture, N255 billion; general consumer goods, N231 billion; technology and ICT, N208 billion. It shows the banks are resilient.
“Non performing loans in 2019 was 11.1 per cent but it has dropped to 6.4 per cent as at June 2020. Capital adjustment was 15.2 per cent but now 18 per cent. By June 2020, total loans granted is N18.9 trillion. The pandemic may have resulted in doomsday for the banks and the economy. We granted forbearance window for the banks because if you don’t, loans will go bad”, he explained.
Emefiele reiterated the CBN’s commitment to diversify the base of the Nigerian economy, by also looking into the solid minerals sector.
“Gold is one of the mineral resources Nigeria has. We have many. Some of these resources are fuelling crisis. Illegal gold mining is fuelling banditry in Zamfara and other places.
“So, we want to put the mineral resources into good use. We want to encourage artisans who are miners. We want to make life better for them. The Ministry of Solid Minerals has licensed local gold miners. They can get facilities from the CBN to mine the gold, take it overseas to refine and come back and take naira. This will be done until we have our local refining in place…”