By OBINNA EZUGWU

The Bankers’ Committee has resolved to implement a N3.5 trillion economic stimulus package to help the country weather the storm of Coronavirus pandemic. This is according to the communique read at the end of its meeting on Saturday.

The committee also resolved that henceforth, oil companies should be selling foreign exchange directly to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and not the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), even as it adopted the initial measures announced by the apex bank to help mitigate the economic impact of the virus.

The communique read in part, “It was resolved that the CBN and banking industry will collaborate at this critical moment – with one coherent strategy to provide confidence to the customers, counter parties, the public and most importantly, put Nigeria first.

“The industry has learnt lessons from previous crisis including the 2008 global financial crisis and the oil price slump of 2016, which will be applicable and position the industry to better deal with crisis.

“The industry resolved that profit will not be the primary motive at this time. Rather, preserving confidence, financial stability and support for the economy will be the overriding objectives.

“Engagements will be held with correspondent banks, trade creditors, trading partners regarding existing LC and trade commitments. The industry is committed to resolving these commitments in a comprehensive and orderly way. There will be transparent and open communication with all counterparties.”

The committee advised Nigerians and Nigerian firms to focus more on sourcing raw materials for their products locally.

“In view of the significant disruption of the global supply chains, the bankers committee advises Nigerians and companies to begin prioritising their import needs and focus more on sourcing raw materials and inputs locally,” the communique said.

“The bankers committee noted the success of the CBN’s 43 items policy and encouraged it to strengthen it and other measures targeted at export promotion and/or import substitution to position Nigeria as a key global producer and build a self-sufficient economy.

“Committee further discussed the financial system’s implementation and operationalisation of policy measures earlier announced by the CBN, including:
-Additional moratorium of 1 year on CBN intervention facilities.
-Interest reduction on intervention facilities from 9% to 5%.
-Creation of N50 billion targeted credit facility for affected households & SMEs
-Granting regulatory forbearance to banks to restructure terms of facilities in affected sectors.
-Strengthening the LDR policy, which is encouraging significant extra lending from banks.
-Improving FX supply to the CBN by directing all oil companies (international and domestic) to sell FX to CBN and no longer NNPC.
-Activation of the N1.5 trillion InfraCo Project for building critical infrastructure;
-Additional N100b intervention in healthcare loans to pharmaceutical companies, healthcare practitioners intending to expand/build capacity;
-N1 trillion loans to boost local manufacturing and production across critical sectors.

“The combination of these measures amounts to N3.5 trillion to the Nigerian economy to ameliorate the pains arising from the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.

“Given that the crisis is first and foremost a public health crisis, we are paying particular attention to our health industry. As aforementioned, global supply chains have been disrupted including dominant drug supply channels from China and India. In fact many countries have or are planning to ban export of drugs and medical supplies from their countries. Clearly, we have no choice but to produce these items locally.

“Thus the committee has identified a few key local pharmaceutical companies who shall be granted Naira and FX funding facilities to support procurement of raw materials and equipment required to exponentially increase local drug production in Nigeria. These include but are not limited to Emzor, Fidson, GSK, May & Baker, Unique Pharma, Swiss Pharma, Neimeth, Sagar, Orange Drugs, Dana Pharma, etc.”