In a bid to stem the rate of non-performing loans in banks, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has decided to bar chronic debtors from accessing foreign exchange at the interbank market.

This decision was reached that 321st Bankers Committee meeting held in Lagos yesterday.

The CBN Director, Banking Supervision, Mrs Tokunbo Martins stated that the committee has also resolved  publish the names of the chronic debtors with that of their board of directors in national dailies.

She said these means were meant to checkmate the growing volume of  non-performing loans, which presently stands at 3.5 per cent, saying that 5 per cent is rate allowable limit.

“One issue that was of concern is the fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get some debtors to pay their loans.

So, it was decided that going forward, one thing that we may do is stopping them from getting foreign exchange.”

Mrs. Martins said the Bankers Committee is taking a proactive steps to avoid the recent  situation where a lot of toxic loans in the financial industry that the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) had to be created to mop them.

“Another thing that we discussed was that despite the economic condition, the Central Bank of Nigeria has been able to ensure that the banking industry is safe and sound in collaboration with the Bankers Committee,” she said.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, Mrs. Bola Adesola also disclosed that the CBN  was stepping up its awareness on the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF), which was launched by the apex bank in September 2014 to give Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) access to cheap fund.

She noted that only 20 per cent of N220 billion MSMEDF has been disbursed so far, adding that the CBN would be training bankers and MSMEs operators on how to access the fund in the six geo-political zones.

According her, following the various measures taken by the CBN and banks, the country’s foreign exchange market has attained some level of stability.

“There is calm in the market. Businesses, their demands have continued to be met.

As the Central Bank of Nigeria continues to meet demands, it has been for businesses that contribute to economic development,” she explained.

The Managing Director of Standard Chartered Bank asserted that demand for dollar has grown drastically, as the apex bank has succeeded in warding off speculators in the forex market.

Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr.EmekaEmuwa also revealed that the Committee has concluded plans to cut down the limit to the amount money banks’ customers would be allowed to  withdraw with their debit cards, when they travel abroad.

Giving reason for this, he said the use of naira debit cards abroad is costing banks a lot of forex, hence, the need to reduce the amount customers would be able to draw down.

The Committee also disclosed that it is looking at the challenges associated with the Bank Verification Numbers, saying it has received some complaints on the project.

The CBN has taken series of steps to checkmate the slip the price of naira, which has culminated to the relative stability in the forex market.

Only this week, the CBN threatened to prosecute those who are dollarizing the nation’s economy by using dollar as legal tender in the country.

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, on January 27, 2015 said the apex bank has concluded plans to stop the allocation of forex to companies importing rice and other commodities that could be manufactured locally.

The apex bank also earlier in the year, shut the Retail Dutch Auction Systems (rDAS) and Wholesale Dutch Auction Systems (wDAS), when the gap of the value of the naira at the interbank market and parallel was becoming wider by the day.

 

Stories by FELIX OLOYEDE