By Omodele Adigun
Barely 24 hours after the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, urged the nation’s banks to lend intervention funds of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at five percent in order to touch the poor, the apex bank has heeded the call and reduced interest on Agricultural, Small & Medium Enterprises Fund (AGSME) to 5 per cent.
Addressing the press at the end of the 9th Bankers Retreat on Sunday, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the Bankers’ Committee took the decision after realising that it was important that “we all re-evaluate what roles that we should play in ensuring that people are able to access finance.
“And accessing finance naturally lead to creating job for people.And when jobs are created and productivity improved, naturally what that would lead to is increasing growth in Nigeria.
ìWe took a very deep evaluation of our roles and we asked ourseleves what can the banks, the CBN, development finance institutions do to create more jobs or to make finance more accessible to SMEs or small manufacturers, realizing that 95 per cent of businesses in Nigeria are the SMES.”
Recall that Ambode on Saturday in Lagos at the Bankers’ Committee Retreat, wondered why the banks are charging high interest on the N220 billion Micro Small and Medium Enterprises(MSMES) funds when it is meant to be an intervention funds.
His words; “If I as a government decided to create employment trust funds and givd it out at five per cent, why is This MSMES funds given by cbn at 9 per cent were not utilized by our banks’. if you want to activate a particular sector, of which the generality of Nigerians are in,you have to shut your eyes to profit making some times.it is a sector-driven strategy.
The people in MSMEs are over 6000. So if CBN says they are interventionist,and you want money to be given out, just as you are doing for the agric loan,why did you specialise on agric loan and put it at 9 per cent.it is because you want to touch that particular sector. So if you want to touch the lives of the people at the lower level, there has to be something different about them.
Dont forget also, it is not a commercial loan.It is the money from the CBN to the banks who are just intermediaries to give it to the poor people.So if you give me, I wil give them at 5 per cent. “
Earler, the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, said numerous studies showed that improved access to finance could have multiplier effects on the nation’s growth and development.
“In this regard,improving access to finan e for millions of Nigerians who do not have access to financial services can serve as a catalyst for sustained growth and cfeation of jobs in our economy.”
Emefiele explained that intervention funds such as the Anchors Borrowers Programme has helped to drive productivity in the agriculture sector by providing finance to large numbers of small holder farmers across the country.
In partnership with other stakeholders, we intend to support measures that will deepen penetration of financial services in the country to those who are financially excluded from the system.Our measures will also take into consideration MSMES that are unable to obtain credit facilities from financial institutions”