- Interest Rates: Senate Panel Plans Talks With FG
The Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions may meet with the Federal Government in the ongoing efforts by the legislature to seek a reduction of the current high interest rates being charged by financial institutions in the country.
The panel, after meeting with stakeholders in the financial sector of the economy last week, had hinted that it might hold talks with the fiscal authorities when the National Assembly resumes from break.
The Senate had summoned the Central Bank of Nigeria, Deposit Money Banks, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises to a roundtable held on June 13, 2017.
Others in attendance at the forum were the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture; National Economic Summit Group and several other bodies.
At the meeting, the lawmakers made it clear that businesses would not survive if the interest rates remained high.
Speaking to our correspondent on the telephone from Saudi Arabia where he is currently on pilgrimage, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, said the engagements would continue when the lawmakers resumed plenary.
He also stated that most of those at the meeting agreed that the interest rates were too high for businesses, but different recommendations were made by stakeholders on how to bring them down.
He stressed that that was the reason why the panel was considering a meeting with fiscal authorities for further talks.
Ibrahim said, “We are still working on it. We have listened to all of them (banks and others) and we will come up with something in our discussions. We may also meet with the fiscal side. I can’t give all the details now until we finish with the process. When we resume, we will take the matter up again.
“At the meeting, everybody agreed that the high interest rate regime is not good for businesses. You can take that one as the take-home. But everybody is coming from different angles on what needs to be done, which we can give the details now.”
The Senate had on June 6, 2017, said Nigeria’s banking sector was being run by a cartel, a situation which was frustrating the monetary and fiscal policies of the Federal Government, adding that the group of bank owners had become strong that it was manipulating the economy.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly also condemned the high interest rates being charged by the banks on loans to the Small and Medium-scale Enterprises. The legislature stated that the economy could not survive when it was difficult to run businesses.