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Experts advocate for involvement of MFBs in poverty alleviation programs

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Leading banking and development experts are urging the Federal Government to involve Microfinance Banks (MFBs) in the distribution of poverty alleviation funds. These experts believe that by including MFBs, the government can better achieve the objectives of its poverty alleviation programs.

This recommendation comes in response to alleged abuses in the disbursement of these funds by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

The National Chairman of the Bank Customers Association of Nigeria (BCAN) and former Registrar of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Dr Uju Ogubunka, stated that MFBs are the most suitable institutions to handle the distribution of funds to the poor, particularly in rural areas.

He emphasised that MFBs are well-positioned to provide financial services to impoverished individuals.

The President of the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), Dr Ken Ukaoha, pointed out that the financial impropriety observed at the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation is evidence of deep-rooted corruption within the public service.

According to him, this should be tackled head on by the relevant authorities in order to alleviate the prevalent multidimensional poverty in the country.

Ukaoha said that channeling social intervention funds through the MFBs would ensure transparency and accountability in the disbursements.

“MFBs are guided by monetary principles in all areas of their operations.

“More so, accessibility of the funds at the local level where small-scale farmers predominantly operate will be more guaranteed.

“The government should get the MFBs involved in getting these funds to the beneficiaries to achieve the goals of the programmes.

“This will also support these grassroots-oriented micro lenders to grow in this very,” he said.

The Chairman, Association of Nigerian Exporters (ANE), Prince Joseph Idiong, said it was important to involve the MFBs in the disbursements considering their reach.

“I prefer the use of MFBs that have strong capitalisation, national or regional spread.

“State government-owned MFBs could also be used as the state governments can be held responsible,” he said.

A former National Chairman of Association of Small-Scale Agro-Producers in Nigeria (ASSAPIN), Amina Jubrin, said that the MFBs are best positioned to efficiently disburse these funds in order to achieve the objective of poverty alleviation.

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FG urges NIPSS members on creative solutions to national challenge

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The Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu, has urged members of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), to devise creative solutions to Nigeria’s social and economic challenges.

Bagudu received  participants of the Senior Executive Course 46 of the institute in his office on Monday in Abuja.

According to him, some of the issues confronting Nigeria  as a nation might require out of the box solutions.

“The NIPSS was created in the wisdom of our forefathers, to train senior management personnel that can bring unusual solutions to problems confronting us,” he said.

He urged the participants to eschew self-interest and make decisions that can assist the nation to make better choices.

Bagudu  said that the national planning function of the ministry comes from the National Planning Commission.

He said that the digital economy is one area that the ministry was looking at for mass youth engagement and economic prosperity.

“Digital economy is an evolving process.which the country will have to leverage digital for overall growth and development.

“It is a new reality. Today trading platforms are closing shop and increasingly going digital.

“Nigeria needs to respond positively and reap benefits from the digital economy. But we have to make the space safe through effective regulation.

“Some countries have data protection laws which enable them to check and regulate excesses in the digital space,” he said.

The Minister commended the law enforcement agencies for promptly going after digital platforms like Binance, which was used to disrupt the foreign exchange market and to weaken the Naira.

He also commended the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Yemi Cardoso, for his various monetary policy decisions that restored confidence in the Nigerian economy.

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Cardoso to speaks at IMF meeting on FX reforms

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The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Olayemi Cardoso will speak on foreign exchange (FX) market reforms at the ongoing International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring Meetings on Wednesday in Washington D.C.

The meetings of the Boards of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank Group (WBG) bring together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, parliamentarians, private sector executives, representatives from civil society organisations and academics to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.

Also featured are seminars, regional briefings, press conferences, and many other events focused on the global economy, international development, and the world’s financial system

Cardoso assumed office as the Governor of the CBN in September 2023. Since then he has introduced some new FX policies and adjusted some existing ones to ensure the stability of the naira.

According to Cardoso, the exchange rate in Nigeria has increased/depreciated due to the simultaneous occurrence of two factors: a decline in the supply of US Dollars coinciding with a surge in the demand for US dollars.

He said in February 2023 that the foreign exchange market is currently facing increased demand pressures, causing a continuous decline in the value of the naira. Factors contributing to this situation include speculative forex demand, inadequate forex supply due to non-remittance of crude oil earnings to the CBN, increased capital outflows, and excess liquidity from fiscal activities.

To address exchange rate volatility, he said a comprehensive strategy has been initiated to enhance liquidity in the FX markets.

This includes unifying FX market segments, clearing outstanding FX obligations, introducing new operational mechanisms for BDCs, enforcing the Net Open Position limit, and adjusting the remunerable Standing Deposit Facility cap.

As part of measures to control inflation and stabilise the naira, the CBN last month raised its benchmark interest rate, known as the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) by 200 basis points to 24.75 percent from 22.75 percent in February 2024.

In her second term message, Kristalina Georgieva, IMF managing director, who was recently reappointed by the executive board of the IMF, said, “I am deeply grateful for the trust and support of the Fund’s Executive Board, representing our 190 members, and honoured to continue to lead the IMF as managing director for a second five-year term.”

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PenCom recovers N12.45bn from erring employers

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The National Pension Commission (PenCom) said it has recovered N12.45 billion from employers that failed to contribute towards their employees retirement.

The recovery would indeed help in wealth creation for the workers, thereby securing them against old age poverty in retirement.

PenCom in its 4th quarter 2024 report, said it has maintained the services of Recovery Agents (RAs) for the recovery of unremitted pension contributions and penalties from defaulting employers.

It submitted that during the quarter, the sum of N319,468,587.45 comprising principal contributions N128,176,029.95 and penalties N191,292,557.50 was recovered from 32 defaulting employers.

It noted that meanwhile, the Commission Secretariat/Legal Advisory Services Department had been requested to take legal action against 4 defaulting employers.

The pension industry regulator maintained that from the commencement of the recovery exercise in June 2012 to 31 December 2023, a total sum of N25,447,085,186.71 comprising of principal contributions N12,929,415,445.52 and penalties N12,517,669,741.19 was recovered from defaulting employers.

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