- CBN Stops Banks From Sacking Workers
Bank workers will no longer nurse the fear of losing their jobs.
The Bankers Committee yesterday halted retrenchment by banks.
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Director, Banking Supervision, Tokunbo Martins, told reporters after the Lagos meeting, that bank workers who had been living in fears over the possibility of losing their jobs should be assured that their jobs are no longer under threat.
She said: “One of the things we discussed was about the impending retrenchment in the banking industry. So, we understand that many bank workers are expressing fears about possible retrenchment in the industry. We discussed and the banks are now committed to not retrenching their staff (workers) going forward. So, whatever rumours are flying around about that mass retrenchment is happening or not happening, that is not true”.
Martins also assured the banking public that Nigeria’s financial sector is safe and sound. Although she admitted that Nigeria’s banks are facing economic challenges, she said the lenders “have strong capital buffers to weather the crisis.”
She also dismissed the report published by the Arqaam Capital insisting that some Nigerian banks are in crisis.
Martins said: “Yes there was discussion around the stability of the banking sector. But even without the discussion, as Director Banking Supervision of the Central Bank of Nigeria, I can tell you that the report is false. The banks are adequately capitalized, so the report is not true. That does not mean that the banking sector is not feeling the economic headwinds. The headwinds are also in every other jurisdictions. It is not strange. So, non-performing loans at 11.7 per cent is not what we should focus on”.
She assured that the banks have the capacity to absorb whatever losses that may arise from the level of non-performing loans in the industry. “But the fact is do the banks have the capacity to absorb any further loses that would arise? The answer is that they do. They have very strong capital buffers. Another thing that is important is does the banks have the capacity to generate huge income to absorb those loses,” she said.
“The underlying assets of the banks are still there, and they are good. So, I think you should totally dispel or ignore that type of story. It should be expected to have non-performing loans (NPLs). It is not the reason why any jurisdiction should be demonized. There are other jurisdictions that have NPLs as high as 15 per cent, 35 per cent and so on,” she said.
On the state of the foreign exchange market, Martins said bank customers that exceed $50,000 annual spend on Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) cards used abroad will be barred from the forex market.
She said: “In CBN’s move to manage demand for forex, there was a rule that was put in place that people are not allowed to withdraw more than $50,000 annually on their naira debit cards. For a while, the policy has been abused by bank customers, and the CBN had not taken any step to that effect. We have decided to take the steps now to enforce the rule. So, we want members of the public to remember that that rule is in place. All your accounts are linked to a particular BVN. Now, that BVN only allows you to withdraw only $50,000 per annum. If people continue to breach that rule, they will lose access to forex market,” she said.
The Committee also discussed the need to boost flow of forex to manufacturing sector, which employs millions of Nigerians. It said the approach would boost the production capacity of the manufacturing sector.
The need to improve the financial literacy among the youths as this year’s World Savings Day Celebration approaches was also discussed.
The committee also hammered on the need to promote Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), general commerce, general commerce, manufacturing, micro-finance bank and other banking-related products so as to create awareness as our nation gets older and stronger in banking services.
“We were also reminded of the roles and responsibility of banks to help grow the economy especially the manufacturing sector. As bank CEOs, we agreed to ensure that the economy grows. We also looked at how the country can leverage on the opportunity in the pension industry,” she said.
CBN Extends Letter of Credit Issuance Timeline Amid Forex Crisis
Move Aims to Address FX Scarcity Challenges and Enhance Customer Service
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced an extension of the timeline for issuing letters of credit from 24 hours to five working days, according to the newly approved 2023 service charter.
This adjustment comes as the country grapples with foreign exchange scarcity, impacting local and international trade.
The 2020 service charter initially stipulated a 24-hour timeline for the issuance and management of letters of credit, but the updated charter now reflects a timeline extension to five working days.
Also, the CBN has prolonged the timeline for the registration of Form M and NXP from 24 hours to two working days.
The move follows the CBN’s unification of all forex market segments in June 2023, aimed at promoting liquidity and stability.
However, this measure appears to have led to increased market instability, with the naira losing nearly a fifth of its value.
Reports indicate that foreign suppliers are now rejecting letters of credit from Nigerian businesses, affecting the importation of goods and services.
Letters of credit are crucial for the payment of visible goods imports, wherein a bank commits in writing to pay the exporter a specified sum within a defined timeframe upon receipt of proper documentation from the customer.
The extended timelines for letters of credit, Forms M, and NXP in the service charter are seen as measures to manage cash flow and instill confidence in the process amidst the ongoing forex crisis.
CBN Governor Yemi Cardoso stressed the commitment to responsive and citizen-friendly governance through efficient, responsible, and transparent service delivery in the revised service charter.
The move is part of the CBN’s effort to comply with the Business Facilitation Act 2022 and enhance ease of doing business in Nigeria.
Unity Bank MD Advocates Policy Actions to Stem Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria
The Managing Director of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs. Tomi Somefun has called for comprehensive policy actions that will dismantle the structures that enable gender-based violence in Nigeria.
At the Ebony Life Cinema, the venue of the film screening in Lagos, Unity Bank supported the BECKMA movie premiere by ARDA Development Commuications Inc. which was held to highlight issues of Gender-Based violence and driving positive change in society.
Making the call, Somefun stated that the Bank committed to partnering with the movie premiere and putting the power of the brand behind BECKMA as the event brings sustainability and gender equality to the front burner.
Represented by Unity Bank’s Group Head of Compliance, Mrs. Patricia Ahunanya, Somefun noted that “9 percent of women aged 15 to 49 had suffered sexual assault at least once in their lifetime and 31% had experienced physical violence,” citing a recent study by UNDP in Nigeria.
Speaking further, Somefun said “Gender-based violence is not just a women’s issue, but a societal ill that demands our collective attention. It is high time for us to step forward and advocate for comprehensive policy actions that will dismantle the structures allowing such atrocities to persist”.
She added, “I urge policymakers to enact stringent laws against gender-based violence, ensuring swift and severe consequences for perpetrators. Our homes and various organisations must also be a catalyst for change, inspiring others to follow suit.”
While commending the ARDA Development Communications Inc. for their initiatives to promote gender equality and empowerment in line with SDG5, Somefun assured of the Bank’s commitment to sustainable initiatives and further collaborative initiatives and advocacy programmes for the elimination of gender-based violence.
Nigeria’s NIBSS Directs Banks to Disconnect Non-Deposit Financial Institutions from NIP System
Banks in Nigeria have received a directive from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) to disconnect Switches, Payment Solution Service Providers (PSSPs), and Super Agents from the NIBSS Instant Payment Outwards System.
The circular, dated December 5, 2023, highlighted that including these non-deposit-taking financial institutions as beneficiaries on the NIP funds transfer channels violates the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) guideline on electronic payments.
The NIBSS emphasized that while Switches, PSSPs, and Super Agents might process outward transfers as inflows to banks, their licenses do not permit them to hold customers’ funds.
The circular referred to the CBN’s guidelines on electronic payment of salaries, pensions, suppliers, and taxes, dated February 2014, as the basis for this regulatory stance.
The directive also pointed to a circular dated May 11, 2018, titled “Permissible Services and Products of PSSP Operation in Nigeria,” reinforcing the need for compliance.
As a result, banks were urged to delist all Switches, PSSPs, and Super Agents from the NIP Outward Transfer channels while allowing their participation in inward transfers.
In Nigeria’s payment ecosystem, operators are required to obtain licenses such as Switching and Processing, Mobile Money Operations, Payment Solution Services, or Regulatory Sandbox from the CBN.
Only Mobile Money Operators (MMOs) have the authority to hold customer funds, according to the CBN’s regulatory framework.
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