From Uche Usim, Abuja
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele said on Tuesday that between two and three trillion naira have been disbursed as loans with single-digit interest rates and a two-year moratorium to households, Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and big companies from 2020 till date; to enable them to recover from the decapitating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Emefiele made the disclosure in a monitored Arise television interview held on the sidelines of the ongoing intra-Africa trade fair in Durban, South Africa.
According to him, as Nigeria recorded the outbreak of the pandemic early last year, President Muhammadu Buhari summoned him and Finance Minister Mrs Zainab Ahmed to immediately develop a blueprint to manage the economy as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted global supply chains.
He further explained that the fiscal wing was to provide N500 billion while the monetary wing was to come up with N1.5 trillion at the first instance.
The CBN governor said that the intervention loans were later scaled up as demand ballooned such that close to N3 trillion has been disbursed as loans and not grants as some Nigerians erroneously believe.
‘We’ve disbursed about N3 trillion loans from last year to this year. The manufacturing sector, farmers, households and others who could not get loans before now got at a single-digit interest rate and two-year moratorium. We have records to show we have played our part and I’m not saying that the fiscal authorities have not played their part.
‘The loans were not meant for players in the fiscal space to share. There is no problem with the fiscal authorities. Our job is to complement. At every opportunity when we hold our MPC meeting, we always reel out what we have done. Throughout my years as a banker, I never saw where banks lent 10-year loans with a two-year moratorium. I hope it continues even after I’ve left,’ he said.
The CBN governor admitted that there may have been some mistakes made in the course of managing the economy, especially in the COVID-19 era, but did not explicitly state the mistakes.
He said that good lessons have been learnt and that such mistakes would not repeat themselves on his watch.
He assured that the remaining years of the current administration and his tenure will focus on delivering enduring infrastructure to Nigerians that will ultimately galvanize massive job creation, which in turn will boost the economy and help solve the insecurity crisis.
Emefiele also spoke about the CBN 100 for 100 policy on production and productivity (100 for 100 PPP), saying it was designed to raise a fresh industrial output lifeline to produce for local consumption and for export.
He added that the policy is also intended to serve as a base to create massive employment opportunities arising from the addition of new production lines across various sectors of the economy.
On his vision for the country, he said: ‘I dream about the Nigeria of my childhood or move close to what it was at my birth. Nigeria is a nation of great opportunities. The population is growing and we have the potential to become even greater. We must diversify into non-oil revenue. Self-sufficiency is key and we must strive to achieve that.’