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Banks, private sector urge CBN to increase forex allocation to real sector

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Nigerian banks and the organised private sector (OPS) have called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to increase foreign exchange allocation to the real sector by restoring the priority window and dedicated access for manufacturers.

This was part of the communiqué issued at the 1st National Stakeholders Conference organised by the Association of Corporate Affairs Managers of Banks (ACAMB) in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) with the Theme: Promoting Synergy Between the Nigerian Banking Industry and Organised Private Sector (OPS).

The conference was broadly divided into three segments, namely: stakeholders’ presentations and speeches; panel discussion by leaders of thoughts, and general contributions by the audience also agreed that members of the OPS should repatriate forex to enable the apex bank sustain its forex management.

Stakeholders collectively agreed on the importance of effective synergy and good working relationship between the banking industry and the organised private sector given the critical roles of the two sectors in overall national economic development.

The conference agreed to work with all stakeholders, going forward, to create a more effective financing structure that ensures increased accessibility to funding and governance of such inflows into the real sector.

A consultative Committee of experts and stakeholders drawn from across the sectors and relevant agencies and institutions shall be constituted for continuing and enduring dialogue between the banking sector and the OPS in order to enhance funding and monitoring of the impact on the real sector. Both ACAMB and CIBN will work together on this joint action-body.

The OPS should take advantage of specialised development finance institutions created by the government with active funding from CBN to access affordable funding.

The CBN is open to suggestions and feedback on its programmes and banking operations from all stakeholders and the Apex Bank is ever willing to further collaborate in addressing the issue of effective funding of the OPS.

Both the banking sector and the OPS must put national interest uppermost in their business relationships and avoid deliberate acts of sabotage in the guise of transactions.

There is a need for fiscal policy measures to complement current funding initiatives by the banking industry in support of the real sector.

The more active and synergistic the relationship between banking and private sector, the more the growth and development of the national economy.

In order to foster greater understanding and knowledge of operations of each sub-sector of the OPS, Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) should develop in-house expertise through dedicated desks and requisite professionals of key segments of the OPS.

ACAMB and CIBN should institutionalise the Conference initiative, and ensure that subsequent editions are all inclusive of critical players in the Nigerian Economy.

The communiqué signed by Mr. Rasheed Bolarinwa, President, ACAMB and Dr. ‘Seye Awojobi Registrar/CEO, CIBN brought out exhaustive discussions and interrogations of key issues around the roles and importance of banking and OPS, the constraints being faced by the sectors and the suggestions to improve the mutually-beneficial relationships between the sectors.

Money market

LCCI advocates discipline, export to sustain Naira appreciation

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LCCI advocates discipline, export to sustain Naira appreciationThe Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has emphasised the importance of maintaining discipline in the foreign exchange market to sustain the steady appreciation of the Naira.

The President and Chairman of the Council of LCCI, Mr Gabriel Idahosa, made the call in an interview with newsmen on Wednesday in Lagos.

Idahosa praised the efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria in imposing discipline, attributing the recent Naira appreciation to curbing speculative activities.

“On the monetary side, the CBN is doing it. The primary efforts should continue to impose discipline in the foreign currency market.

“The abuses in the foreign currency market were prevalent and most of the fall in the value of the Naira in the last six months is not because there was any sudden calamity in the Nigerian economy.

“It was primarily because of very reckless speculations, that people were just speculating in the dollar, they had nothing to export, nothing to import, they were just buying the dollar for speculative reasons.

“And once the Central Bank started to impose discipline in the foreign currency market, we saw the value of the Naira rising very quickly by stopping speculation,” he said.

According to him, the strategies of the Central Bank, now, are designed to achieve a sustained discipline in the foreign currency market.

Idahosa highlighted the need to continue reducing the number of Bureau de Change operators, stressing that many operated without contributing to international trade.

He applauded the Central Bank’s move to enforce documentation and identification of buyers and sellers at BDCs, aiming to deter reckless speculation and curb illicit financial flows.

On the fiscal side, Idahosa urged President Bola Tinubu to prioritise a nationwide export drive, citing it as the key to bolstering the Naira and providing essential foreign exchange.

He emphasised the importance of fostering a culture of export among Nigerians across all scales of enterprise to reduce reliance on imports and strengthen the country’s economic resilience.

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Foreign reserves decline to $32.29bn

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The foreign reserve has depleted to $32.29 billion, which is a six-year low in the Central Bank’s course to save the naira.

This is the lowest level the reserves have been since September 25, 2017, when it was $32.28 billion.

The country’s foreign reserves declined by 6.2 percent, losing $2.6 billion since March 18, when the naira started its rebound from record-low levels against the dollar to $32.29 billion as of Monday, based on the latest available data from the CBN.

At the beginning of the month, the reserve was at $33.57 billion, then further dipped to $32.6 billion by April 12.

This comes as the CBN has attempted to save the naira through various interventions such as raising interest rates to 24.75 percent and managing foreign exchange trades.

It stepped up its intervention in the FX market with sales at both the official market and to BDC operators who sell dollars on the streets.

The apex bank, which sells $10,000 to each BDC every week, mandated them to only sell at a spread of 1.5 percent, which comes to N1,117 per US dollar.

The rate sold by the BDCs has set a defacto floor for the naira in the black market since the apex bank resumed sales to them in February.

Also, last month the CBN said it had cleared a backlog of $7 billion since the beginning of the year. That was built over the years as the central bank pegged its currency against the dollar, leading to a scarcity of foreign currency that deterred foreign portfolio investment. However, it’s unclear how much dollar debt the CBN retains on its books.

Akpan Ekpo, a professor of economics and public policy, said the CBN’s managed float system in which it is trying to ensure supply and curtail demand is not sustainable in the long term.

He said the CBN needs to be careful with how it depletes the foreign reserves as its main source is oil revenue.

“We need to manufacture non-oil goods and services, export them, and get foreign exchange and not depend on oil income,” he said.

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CBN expresses commitment to harnessing digital technologies

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The Central Bank of Nigeria says it is committed to harnessing the power of digital technologies to enhance financial inclusion.

CBN Governor, Mr Yemi Cardoso said this on Tuesday in Abuja, during a strategic institutions tour by participants of Senior Executive Course 46 of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS).

Cardoso, who was represented by Dr Bala Bello, Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, said that digital technologies would also boost productivity and create an enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive.

According to him, the apex bank has already deployed robust digital technologies in driving most of its processes towards achieving optimal performance.

He said that NIPSS, as a foremost national policy think-tank, had made invaluable contributions to the socio-political and macroeconomic development of Nigeria.

“We are, therefore, not surprised at the apt and relevant choice of your research theme.

“The CBN and NIPSS have had a long-standing and robust working relationship since the establishment of the institute. This has culminated into positive mutual benefits for the two institutions.

“The CBN, on the one hand, has provided infrastructural support to the institute through construction of an auditorium and a hostel, in addition to the provision of technical support.

“On the other hand, NIPSS has supported the technical capacity of the CBN through the training of some personnel both at senior executive course level and intermediate course cadre,” he said.

The Director-General of NIPSS, Prof. Ayo Omotayo, said that the study visiting would be representing the institute in getting information from operators of the apex bank on the relevance of digital technology to developing jobs for Nigerian youths.

According to Omotayo, a lot of progress has been made globally in using digital systems to run the economy.

“The more of our activities that we can put in digital format, the more we get the opportunity of providing employment access to a whole lot of the 120 million active Nigerians.

“We at NIPSS always knock at the frontiers of knowledge, checking what is going to happen in the immediate future.

“We are working towards a system where we believe that almost every service can be delivered digitally,” he said.

The Acting Director, Monetary Policy Department of the CBN, Dr Lafi Bala Keffi, commended the NIPSS study group for its interest in the apex bank.

She urged the participants to explore the time-tested culture of NIPSS, which is to diagnose national, profer practical solutions and recommend ways of making such solutions realisable.

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