Uche Usim, Abuja
Barely 48 hours after it unveiled a six-point palliative to cushion the excruciating impact of the COVID-19 on the economy, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Wednesday disclosed plans to boost local manufacturing and import substitution with N1 trillion across all critical sectors of the economy.
This is in addition to N100 billion loan already earmarked in 2020, to support the health authorities to ensure laboratories, researchers and innovators work with global scientists to patent and or produce vaccines and test kits in Nigeria to prepare for future health challenges.
The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, in a statement, said that the management of the apex meet plans to with the Bankers’ Committee on Saturday, March 21, 2020, to work out the modalities on how to get the economy running uninterruptedly.
Emefiele also told newsmen that an Implementation Committee that will action the private sector contribution of N1.5trillion Infrastructure funding that will link farming communities to markets as agreed at the recently concluded “Going for Growth” Roundtable last week will be set-up next week.
Given the plunge in the price of oil, which dropped to $25 per barrel on Wednesday with its attendant low accretion to oil revenue, the CBN Governor directed all Deposit Money Banks to increase their support to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries to enhance local drug manufacturing, increased bed count in hospitals across Nigeria, in funding intensive care as well as in training, laboratory testing, equipment and Research & Development.
In addition to the N50 billion soft loans to small businesses announced on Monday, March 16, 2020, Emefiele said the CBN would also increase its intervention by another N100 billion in loan in 2020, to support the health authorities to ensure laboratories, researchers and innovators work with global scientists to patent and or produce vaccines and test kits In Nigeria to prepare for any major crises ahead.
According to him, the Bank will release details of how the unveiled facilities would be accessed and released, adding that the CBN had also set-up the Financial Markets Situation Room to monitor global markets and advise the bank on adequate response.
Meanwhile, Emefiele has advised all Deposit Money Banks and other regulated entities in the banking industry to trigger their business continuity plans to ensure that their staff and families are protected, and their operations remain largely undisrupted.
He further advised the banks to adhere strictly to the directives, advice, and notices from the Federal Ministry of Health, National Centre for Disease Control and other relevant government agencies on national response measures to COVID-19.
As a way of checking the possible spread of the virus, he urged the institutions to ensure regular and appropriate sanitization of their premises and make available in all their locations adequate sanitization materials and also to discourage large gatherings of staff and customers.
While pledging that the CBN will continue to monitor all developments on the COVID – 19 infection and design appropriate monetary response to protect the people and economy of Nigeria, Emefiele urged that Nigerians take advantage of turning what appeared to be adversity in the pandemic into an opportunity.
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