COVID-19: CBN Disburses N3trn To Support Businesses

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Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, has said the apex bank disbursed about N3 trillion to businesses across sectors of the economy – in two years – to help them recover from COVID-19 induced economic downturn on their households and businesses.

Emefiele made disclosure in an interview with Arise News television on the sidelines of the recently concluded Nigerian international partnership forum in Paris, France.

He made the claim in a response to a question on his reaction to the claim by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that there was no synergy between the fiscal and monetary authorities.

“If you ask the minister of finance who we are always in contact with, she will tell you that there are no issues about the relationship between the fiscal and monetary authorities. When people say there is no synergy, I wonder where that is coming from,” Emefiele said while justifying his claim that there is collaboration between the fiscal and monetary authorities.

He pointed to the joint development of the Economic Sustainable Programme (ESP) that was developed by both sides, and the delivery of COVID-19 response measures in 2020 during the COVID-19 outbreak, as some of the ways the CBN and the fiscal arm are working together.

According to Emefiele, the CBN provided about N1.5 trillion as loans to support people impacted by COVID-19 to get their businesses back, while the federal government only provided N500 billion.

“Between 2020 and 2021 our data shows that we have disbursed close to almost N3 trillion in loans to households, MSMEs, to our smallholder farmers, to our pharmaceuticals and health institutions, to some of our large agricultural companies that want to get back to business, to manufacturing companies

“So, when I have the data that shows that we are playing out part from the monetary side to support the programme of government under the ESP. But if what people expect is that the monetary authority or the central bank should hand the money over and give it to the fiscal, unfortunately, that is not the way it works,” Mr Emefiele said.

He said the funds are sequestered from cash deposit reserve of banks which has to also go back through the banks to those we lending money to at 5% for 10 years, with two years moratorium. I think we are playing our part.

“Our job is to complement and I believe we are doing some good job. And that is why at every opportunity when we hold our monetary policy committee meetings, we’ve always taken pain to read out what we have done to complement the efforts of the fiscal[u1]  and the data is there,” he said.

On the 100 for 100 intervention programme of the Bank, Emefiele said it came up as part of efforts to create employment for the people of Nigeria. He restated that projects that would be funded under the initiative have to be new projects where import content for raw materials will be near zero “so that we can begin to turn our eyes at out available local raw materials; rather than import them.” He said it is meant to complement President Buhari’s plan to create 10 million jobs in 10 years.

On the fears that the programme could be molested by some people, Mr Emefiele said Central bank has the resources to monitor its intervention projects to ascertain if the projects are meeting the targeted objectives. He said there is need for self-censorship programmes to be in place to make sure the targets of job creation and improving the economy are achieved. “We as leaders don’t have a choice, we must do what is expected of us.”

Mr Emefiele called for deliberate efforts to improve the nation’s educational standards “so that we can go to secondary school in Nigeria. And when we begin to achieve that then I will begin to think that Nigeria is coming back to the Nigeria of my birth.”

Emefiele promised to make the best out of the remaining two and half years of his tenure. We will deliver the best to Nigeria and to Nigerians. We will make sure that our programmes we want to focus on: infrastructure (InfraCo), the Nigerian International Financial Centre – are projects that are legacy projects.

Asked what Nigerian he would want to leave behind in office, Emefiele said: “I just dream about Nigeria of my youth, Nigeria of my childhood. And am praying that whatever we would have done while in office, that Nigeria could just return to what we were during our birth, then I can sit back and say thank God that we left something for our children.

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