By Emeka Anaeto
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed plans to draft a framework on credit to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) aimed at improving credit to the sector.
The Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, at a strategy meeting with selected Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and other stakeholders, on enhancing access to credit to SMEs in the country, earlier this week said the framework would see more of government intervention in the sector, which many believe would result in job creation for the teeming youths in the country.
Emefiele noted that the meeting with the DFIs was a result of the failure of lenders to make access to credit a priority.
He expressed government’s concern that the citizens were yet to feel the impact of the country’s exit from recession, which he attributed to lack of appreciable growth.
Speaking further, he disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari had mandated agencies to come up with programmes that would have Nigeria and Nigerians at heart. The programme, according to him, would be one that would permeate the country in terms of granting access to credit to the rising number of SMEs.
In spite of all efforts by the CBN to improve certain parameters of the economy, he said lenders had failed Nigerians.
Speakers at the strategy session were unequivocal in their attempt to find the solution to the failure of the commercial banks to rescue the situation. The representative of the only commercial bank at the meeting, First Bank of Nigeria, said that everything boiled down to the huge risk involved in giving credit to SMEs.
An Abuja based manufacturer narrated how a commercial bank turned down his request for a loan of N160 million on the account of his N200-million factory that was located in Kubwa, an outskirt of the Abuja metropolis.
Rounding off the discussion, Emefiele observed that the nation needed to strengthen the Bank of Industry (BoI) in order to make it compete favourably with the DMBs.
A technical committee comprising the BoI, Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), selected DFIs, Bank of Agriculture (BOA), Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), to be chaired by the Director, Development Finance Department (DFD), Dr. Mudashiru Olaitan, was constituted and asked to submit its recommendations to the larger meeting in one week.
Emefiele directed that the outcome of the committee’s work should form part of the theme of the annual Bankers’ Committee Retreat in Lagos, scheduled to hold December 8 – 9, 2017.
Those who attended the meeting included the Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters in the Vice President’s Office, Dr Adeyemi Dipeolu; Managing Director, Development Bank of Nigeria, Mr Tony Okpanachi; and Managing Director, Bank of Industry, Mr Olukayode Pitan.