From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday revealed that the financial institution’s regulator will, in the next 12 months, establish the Nigerian International Financial Centre (NIFC) to consolidate the growth and resilience of Nigerian banks in the last decade.
He made the disclosure in Abuja at the 14th annual conference of the Chartered Institute Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).
According to him, the NIFC will act as an international gateway for capital and investments, driven by technology and payment system infrastructure.
“This new financial hub will curate local and international banks to make them global champions. The NIFC will be a 24/7 Financial centre that will complement London, New York and Singapore financial centres and enable an acceleration of our homegrown initiatives such as Infracorp plc, the N15 trillion infrastructure fund which we will be launching in October 2021.
“The NIFC will also complement our initiatives on the Nigerian Commodity exchange and the National Theatre creative hubs for our youths as well as the E-naira project which will also debut in October 2021. The NIFC will take advantage of our existing laws such as the BOFIA 2020, NEPZA and other CBN regulations to create a fully global investment and a financial hub where monies, ideas, and technology will move freely without hindrance”, Emefiele explained.
Emefiele stated that CIBN has been a strong supporter of CBN’s policies and programmes.
He described the conference as timely, given the unprecedented events of 2020, especially when considered the measures put in place by policymakers to reverse a significant downturn in economic activities last year.
To prevent an economic crisis occasioned by COVID-19 from spilling into a financial crisis, Emefiele said the CBN worked to protect the interest of depositors by ensuring that banks made adequate capital provisions to cover unexpected losses.
“We also enabled banks to restructure loans granted to individuals and businesses significantly affected by the pandemic. Our banks also demonstrated exceptional resilience by putting in place business continuity plans, along with the deployment of digital channels, which ensured that the provision of financial services to customers was not disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are delighted that these measures have paid off. Indeed, key indicators in the banking sector continue to reflect that our banking sector remains strong, resilient, and healthy. Capital Adequacy Ratio and Liquidity Ratio in the banking sector have remained above the prudential limits at 15.5 and 41.3 per cent, respectively. The Non-Performing Loan Ratio of the Banking Industry in July 2021 stood at 5.4 per cent reflecting continued improvements from 6 per cent in September 2020. Our banking sector remains well-positioned to support the recovery efforts of the fiscal and monetary authorities”, he noted.
On various economic revival efforts undertaken by the CBN, Emefiele said that over N756 billion has been disbursed to 3.7 million farmers cultivating over 4.6million hectares of farmland under the Anchor Borrowers Programme.
“Another is the deployment of N440 billion to 711,706 beneficiaries under the Agribusiness/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) and the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) being run by the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank; disbursement of N98.41 billion in loans to support 103 healthcare projects, of which 26 are pharmaceutical companies and 77 are for healthcare institutions. These funds are helping to expand and strengthen the capacity of our healthcare institutions; provision of N923 billion in loans to support 251 real sector projects, which has helped in boosting local manufacturing and production across critical sectors.
In his goodwill message, the President of Rwanda, Mr Paul Kagame, urged the banking sector to live above board to retain their integrity; while working to build a more resilient economy for Africa.