Uche Usim, Abuja
Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele on Tuesday hit armchair experts for benchmarking the exchange rate on parallel market (black market) rate of N480/$1, describing the development as most unfortunate and ruinous to the economy.
He described the parallel market as a tainted den of corruption because those who play in that space offer bribes to procure foreign exchange due to paucity of relevant documents needed to access it via the Investment and Export (I&E) window at N380/$1.
He added that Nigeria depreciated the naira by 24%, much lower than most developed nations.
Speaking at the final Monetary Policy Committee meeting for 2020 and the 276th in the series, Emefiele assured also anxious Nigerians that the current recession will be short-lived, as the apex bank has a cocktail of policies and programmes aimed at urgently reflating the economy and tow it out of the doldrums by the first quarter of 2021.
He said that the CBN will sustain its intervention programmes across the economy; which covers households, small businesses and corporate organizations.
According to him, 10 members of the MPC voted to retain all key economic policy parameters.
It infers that the Monetary Policy Rate (lending rate) remains 11.5%, asymetric corridor at +100 and -700 basis points around the MPR, liquidity ratio at 30% and Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) retained at to 27.5%.
The CBN Governor also revealed that though N50 billion was set aside for the households Targeted Credit Facility in March, the money has grown to N159 billion currently that have been disbursed to 317,000 beneficiaries; while plans are afoot to grow the fund to between N250-N300 billion in the nearest future to boost spending and encourage small businesses.
Emefiele revealed that N871 billion has since been disbursed to general commerce, N231 billion to the ICT sector, N100bn for healthcare and hospitals and N1 trillion to corporate organizations.
“We will ensure the economic sustainability programme runs, reduce unemployment, deal with disability caused by #EndSARS, increase funding for MSMEs and other Corporate organizations. All these will help us exit recession. We’ve been urged by the MPC it to maintain exchange rate and financial system stability and ensure that NPL remains low.
What we’ve done in agric and manufacturing will create jobs, create spending and moderate inflation.
“What is happening today is a global phenomenon. We are working hard to diversify the economy from oil. Crude oil contribution is reducing and non-oil revenue increasing. We want it to remain that way. It’s time to diversify our economy and we found agriculture before oil. We are doing a lot in agriculture”, the CBN Governor stated.
On the soaring food prices, Emefiele expressed hopes that the worrisome development is expected to moderate at harvest sets in.
He noted that the current inflation was driven from the supply side and the disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To avoid public health crisis, Emefiele urged the Federal Government to quickly procure vaccines when ready to avoid health challenges that would impede economic progress.