By Okoronkwo Chuks
Deposit Money banks have agreed to contribute five per cent of their Profit After Tax (PAT) to a pool of funds to fund eligible bankable projects meant for exports and to drive the economy.
Based on the industry’s last three years profit and loss account, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and members of the Bankers’ Committee have estimated that about N24.9 billion almost N25 billion will be contributed annually by the banks which on the average, is the expected yield of the five per cent PAT of the banks in the last three years.
Addressing reporters at the end of the first committee’s meeting for this year, Director Banking Supervision of the CBN, Mr Ahmed Abdullahi, said the fund would be kept in the CBN “and the scheme will be controlled by members of the bankers committee itself, there will be a project review committee that will review submissions by entrepreneurs that require funding and that project review committee would make the recommendation to the the board of trustees of the bankers committee.”
Abdullahi stated that “the scheme is such that each bank will have an equity holding in the scheme based on its annual contribution from its profit.”
He added that “banks have submitted their 2016 statement of account and they are to be published not later than April of 2017 so we’re going to start the scheme in 2017 using 2016 financials of banks. The idea is to help the federal government’s drive to diversify the economy, any scheme or industry that is going to be export driven will benefit, similarly any industry that is going to provide import substitution.”
The decision to introduce this new initiative, he explained is because “a number of SMEs and agric businesses do not have enough credit to drive business activities so the Bankers’ Committee felt that they should lend a helping hand to the economy in providing credit to those businesses that are important to the real sector, those businesses that are important in diversifying the economy away from oil.”
A project he said will be financed for a maximum of 10 years it can be earlier, the gestation period is what matters, businesses do not have long term funding this can allow funding up to a period of 10 years.
Corroborating what the CBN official said, Managing Director of FSDH, Mrs Hamda Ambah, noted that “this is an equity fund not a loan, the banks will come and provide equity that will be there for up to 10 years and the banks will also take an equity and look at getting equity type returns before they exit in 10 years. No interest rates, just a share in the profit, the banks collectively will have an ownership stake and benefit if the investment is successful and exit after 10 years. It will be like we are coming to take shares in your company, it’s like partnership.”