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Stockbrokers express concerns over bill seeking to modify CBN’s autonomy

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Stakeholders in the capital market have voiced reservations about the proposed amendments to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act No. 7 of 2007, warning of potential adverse economic consequences.

In a corporate filing with the NGX on Tuesday, the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) and the Association of Securities Dealing Houses of Nigeria (ASHON) expressed concerns that the bill could undermine the independence of the CBN.

The legislation, which has passed its second reading and is scheduled for a public hearing on May 30th, seeks to modify the CBN’s autonomy by subjecting its budget to National Assembly approval and establishing a new coordinating committee for monetary and fiscal policies.

Critics argue that these changes could introduce political interference in monetary policy decisions, hampering the central bank’s ability to manage the economy effectively and objectively.

The President and Chairman of the Council of CIS, Oluropo Dada, emphasised the pivotal role of the CBN in maintaining economic stability and preserving international credibility.

“Safeguarding the independence of the Central Bank of Nigeria is crucial for aligning with global economic best practices and ensuring decisions are driven by sound financial principles, free from undue influence,” Dada stated.

Similarly, the Chairman of ASHON, Sam Onukwue, highlighted the potential impact on investor confidence.

He said, “An independent central bank is a cornerstone for maintaining the country’s standing in the global financial community, which directly affects investor confidence, credit ratings, and the overall economic outlook.”

While both organisations acknowledged the merit of some proposed amendments aimed at enhancing corporate governance and compliance, they stressed the importance of considering the broader ramifications.

“It is imperative to ensure that fiscal authorities do not encroach upon the central bank’s operational independence, as this is vital for effective and timely monetary policy responses,” Dada emphasised.

As the public hearing approaches, financial market participants, economists, and analysts will closely monitor the proceedings and subsequent legislative actions.

“The outcome will have far-reaching implications for Nigeria’s economic policy framework and its position in the global economic landscape.”

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Money market

Naira slumps marginally at official, parallel windows

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The naira slumped marginally against the United States dollar on Friday. Data from the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM) showed that the domestic currency traded at N1, 485.53/$1 on Friday.

At the end of trading today, the naira lost less than N1 against the dollar as against the N1,485.36/$1 it recorded on Thursday.

The intra-day high and low recorded during the day were N1, 505/$1 and N1, 401/$1 respectively, representing a very lean spread of N104\$1.

Similarly, the naira slumped against the dollar at the parallel section of the market to trade at N1,495/$1, as against the N1,490/$1 it traded the previous trading day.

However, the Nigerian currency appreciated slightly against the British Pound to trade at N1,890\£1 s against the previous trading day’s N1,900\£1. For several weeks consecutively, the Canadian dollar closed flat against the naira to trade at N1,200| CA$1.

The naira also lost N10 against the Euro to trade at N1,590/€1 as against the previous trading day’s N1,580/€1.

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CBN, OPS collaborate to boost Nigeria’s financial sector

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By Opeyemi Abdulsalam

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently hosted a meeting with the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to discuss strategies for enhancing Nigeria’s financial sector.

The meeting aimed to improve monetary policy communication and guidance to boost Nigeria’s image in the global investment community.

CBN Governor, Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, emphasised the importance of private sector contributions to economic policy and pledged to establish a framework for collaboration and regular interactions with OPS leadership.

“The private sector is a critical engine of our economy. This meeting underscores our commitment to working collaboratively with stakeholders to create a more robust and investor-friendly financial environment,” Cardoso said.

The CBN presented an overview of the economy’s trajectory, highlighting the deceleration of inflation and expectations of moderation.

The Bank assured the private sector of its commitment to building trust, ensuring price stability, and implementing monetary policies to support economic growth and stability in foreign exchange rates.

The meeting also addressed concerns about macroeconomic risks, exchange rate volatility, and the need for development finance support.

The CBN and OPS agreed to work together to create a more robust and investor-friendly financial environment.

“We appreciate the CBN’s open dialogue and interest in ensuring the manufacturing industry and other organised private sectors are abreast of the bank’s policies,” said Otunba Francis Meshioye, President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).

The meeting demonstrated the CBN’s commitment to collaboration and its willingness to listen to the concerns of the private sector.

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Sterling Bank, SMEDAN partner on data platform, Databanc

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Sterling Bank and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria have launched a platform called Databanc that provides data on businesses in Nigeria and N5bn worth of single-digit loan programmes.

A statement from the bank said that Databank provides insights which will be utilised by SMEDAN to deliver its mandate on policy formulation and a unique identification for small businesses and their promoters.

Speaking at the launch of the platform, the Executive Director of Commercial and Institutional Banking at Sterling Bank, Tunde Adeola, described the platform and fund as evidence of Sterling Bank’s commitment towards growing the real sector of the nation’s economy.

Adeola said, “We are delighted to bolster the backbone of our economy with SMEDAN. This initial fund of N5bn marks just the beginning of what has been and will continue to be a mainstay of our approach to funding businesses to grow at scale, and become the preferred financial partner for businesses, no matter their scale.”

He added that over 20,000 SMEs had enrolled on the Databanc platform, with over 80 beneficiaries of the single-digit loan programme and further disbursements ongoing.

He encouraged all MSMEs in the country to enrol on the platform.

SMEDAN’s Director-General, Mr Charles Odii, represented by the Director of Agribusiness Development and Access to Finance, Levi Anyikwa, highlighted the programme’s alignment with SMEDAN’s mission to democratise credit access for nano and micro-enterprises.

Anyikwa affirmed that access to finance remained a significant hurdle for SMEs, and restated SMEDAN’s commitment to removing that barrier.

The Head of SME Digital Products at Sterling Bank, Bolanle Tyson, emphasised Sterling Bank’s strategic focus on critical sectors encapsulated in the HEART of Sterling forward strategy: Health, Education, Agriculture, Renewable Energy, and Transportation.

She said, “We are leveraging data to empower SMEs like never before. Our commitment to SMEs is steadfast. We recognise their pivotal role in driving Nigeria’s GDP and employment. This partnership with SMEDAN underscores our shared dedication to their success.”

The latest study from Visa, the SME Megatrends report showed that SMEs in Nigeria remained heavily underserved and underbanked with a considerable amount of SMEs relying on personal loans and informal credit, as they face obstacles and requirements that make it difficult to secure loans from banks and other formal lending institutions.

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