- CBN Orders Banks to Stop Dollar Loans
Bank customers who do not earn foreign exchange (forex) will henceforth not be able to secure dollar-denominated loans, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said.
CBN Director, Banking Supervision, Mrs. Tokunbo Martins, broke the news yesterday at the CBN-Financial Institutions Training Centre (FITC) continuous education programme for Directors of Banks and Other Financial Institutions, held in Lagos.
She said the policy shift followed the continuous depreciation of the naira and subsequent rise in foreign currency exposures of banks in naira terms.
She said the currency depreciation, which intensified following the introduction of the flexible exchange regime, had increased the loan repayment obligation of borrowers and threatened their capacities to meet contracted loan repayments.
“Banks may, therefore, need to restrict extending foreign currency denominated loans to customers that do not earn foreign exchange,” she said.
Speaking on the theme: Current Regulatory Requirements and their Implications, Mrs Martins said the CBN introduced the flexible forex policy to address the challenges experienced in the forex market.
“The objective of the new regime is to enhance efficiency and facilitate a liquid and transparent Foreign Exchange Market. It is pertinent to note that, although the regime is flexible, CBN intervention in the inter-bank market is allowed, and can be direct or through dynamic secondary market mechanisms,” she said.
“One of the fallouts of the flexible exchange rate regime is increase in volatility in forex market, resulting in heightened exposure of banks to foreign exchange risk. Consequently, banks may need to tighten their controls and monitor their foreign currency positions more closely,” she stated.
Speaking on Treasury Single Account (TSA) implementation, Mrs Martins said the TSA regime precipitated some unintended consequences, affecting the operations of banks, especially regarding deposit depletion, asset quality, decrease in revenues and liquidity stress.
According to her, the aggregate deposit transferred to the CBN from the inception of the TSA regime to March 2016 was N2.67 trillion. This sum, which represents 15.14 per cent of the total deposits of commercial banks of N17.63 trillion as at April 30, constitutes the volume of deposits “lost” by banks as a fallout of the implementation of the TSA regime.
“This loss impacted banks differently in line with the proportion of their balance sheet that was sustained with Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) deposits. Due to its large size and low cost, Federal Government of Nigeria deposits were a huge source of revenue for banks. Although specific data on revenue attributable to FGN deposits is not available, a good proxy is the yield on Treasury Bills, which is currently around 14 per cent,” she said.
Mrs Martins said assuming the entire government deposits were invested by the banks in Treasury Bills, at the current yield of 14 per cent, it would generate interest income of about N374 billion for the banks. This figure, she said, provides an indication of revenue that is no longer available to commercial banks due to introduction of TSA.
Mrs Martins said that based on the large quantum of revenue earned from government deposits, majority of commercial banks had created teams with responsibility for mobilising public sector funds.
“These teams, which were large and significant, were in some cases directly supervised by top management staff. The introduction of the TSA regime and resultant depletion in government deposits and related revenue has made these teams unprofitable and their existence untenable. Therefore, most banks had scaled back or disbanded the teams and, in extreme cases, released staff deployed to the teams,” she said.
The CBN director said the TSA regime impacted the liquidity level in the banking system due to the attendant remittance of cash, which constitutes a major portion of banks’ liquid assets to the apex bank.
“Furthermore, as part of risk management, banks with large government deposits mitigated their positions by investing the liability in T-bills and FGN bonds. These banks had to liquidate these investments in order to comply with the TSA regime, thereby further reducing their stock of liquid assets,” she said.
Mrs Martins explained that with the introduction of the TSA regime, easy and risk free revenue that was hitherto available to banks via investment of FGN deposits in Treasury Bills and Government Bonds had been restricted.
“Therefore, banks must become innovative in generating revenue to support their operations and provide returns to their shareholders. This development also presents an opportunity for banks to return to their traditional role of savings aggregation and financial inter-mediation. Banks should thus strive to increase the size of their loan books in order to increase their interest and fees income,” Mrs Martins said.
Tanzania: African Development Fund Approves $116 Million Loan to Upgrade Southern Road Corridor
The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund on Wednesday approved a loan of around $116 million to the Tanzanian government to upgrade a 160-km Mnivata-Newala-Masasi road corridor in the southern part of the country.
The Bank’s loan represents 98.71% of the project cost; the government of Tanzania will provide the remaining 1.29% in funding.
The project will upgrade the roadway, including the 84-meter Mwiti bridge, to bituminous standard. The works also have social components, including the provision of potable water, education and medical infrastructure, the establishment of cashew nut processing units, and extension of entrepreneurial training to women and youth.
The upgrade is expected to open up rural areas in the region and enhance the Mtwara Development Corridor, which links Mtwara Port and Mbamba Bay port on Lake Nyasa. Exporters, importers, small-scale cross-border traders, farmers, transporters are all expected to benefit.
“The periodic isolation of such a significant population worsens vulnerability and undermines social inclusion. Improved road connectivity would therefore build the resilience of the people and widen livelihood opportunities within the Mtwara Development Corridor and the surrounding districts,” Bank Director General for East Africa Nnenna Nwabufo said.
Overall, the five-year project will improve mobility and accessibility for about 1.1 million people in Mtwara, Tandahimba, Newala and Masasi districts and facilitate integration with neighbouring Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia.
Currently, the districts of Tandahimba and Newala, with an estimated combined population of 509,000 people, are mostly cut off, while connection with the Mtwara port area for essential supplies is severely constrained during rainy seasons due to the state of the road.
The project will advance Tanzania’s current five-year Development Plan (2021-2026) and aligns with the Bank Group’s Country Strategy Paper (2021-2025) which emphasizes sustainable infrastructure for a competitive economy and an improved private sector business environment for job creation, as well as two High-5 strategic priorities: Integrate Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.
At 30 June 2021, the Bank Group’s active portfolio in Tanzania comprised 22 operations (19 public and 3 private) with a total commitment of about $2.4 billion.
FirstBank Expands Its International Money Transfer Network, Reinforces its Commitment to Customer Service
In furtherance of the need to expand diaspora remittance inflow into the country, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has increased its network of International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs), targeted at easing the accessibility of its customers to receive money from close to 100 countries across the world in a safe and secured manner. With over 750 branches across the country, customers can receive money from the nearest FirstBank branch closest to them.
Over the years, FirstBank has been in partnership with Western Union, MoneyGram, Ria, Transfast, and WorldRemit. The bank is also in partnership with other IMTOs which include Wari, Smallworld, Sendwave, Flutherwave, Funtech, Thunes and Venture Garden Group to promote remittance inflow into the country, thereby putting Nigerians and residents at an advantage in receiving money from their families, friends and loved ones across the world.
Beneficiaries can receive remittance in US dollars in any of our over 750 branches spread across the country. Customers without an existing domiciliary account can have dollar account automatically created for their remittances. You can also receive inflow directly into your account through Western Union.
In addition, FirstBank has launched its wholly owned remittance platform named First Global Transfer product to promote the international transfer of funds across its subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa. These subsidiaries include FBNBank DRC, FBNBank Ghana, FBNBank Gambia, FBNBank Guinea, FBNBank Sierra-Leone, FBNBank Senegal.
Reiterating the Bank’s resolve in promoting diaspora remittances, regardless of where one is across the globe, the Deputy Managing Director, Mr Gbenga Shobo said “at FirstBank, expanding our network of International Money Transfer Operators is in recognition of the significant roles diaspora remittances play in driving economic growth such as helping recipients meet basic needs, fund cash and non-cash investments, finance education, foster new businesses and debt servicing.
We are excited about these partnerships, as it is essential to ensure our customers are at an advantage to receive money from their loved ones and business associates, anywhere they are, across the world.”
FirstBank pioneered international funds transfer and remittances over 25 years ago and has been at the forefront of promoting cross border payments in the country, having started the journey with Western Union Money Transfer. The Bank’s wealth of experience and operation in over 750 locations nationwide gives it the edge in the market.
Private Sector Seeks FG’s Directive on VAT Payment
The Organised Private Sector of Nigeria (OPSN) on Sunday in Lagos called on the Federal Government to urgently make a pronouncement on the ongoing controversy over VAT payment so that businesses will know what to do.
OPSN chairman, Mr Taiwo Adeniyi, made the call at a news conference and said delays in addressing the issue could cause negative effects on businesses, most especially in the collection and remittances of VAT.
“We are aware that by Sept. 21 we get penalised if we do not pay or remit the VAT for the month of August.
“We are also aware that laws are not made in retrospect. It then means that even if those laws have been enacted, particularly the Lagos State law which came into effect in September, it will not affect the payment by businesses in the state.
“Due to our remittances, we have issues with the fact that the law for Rivers was made in August and the majority of the businesses in Lagos usually will have a relationship with the Rivers State Inland Revenue too.
“The confusion in the public space is the reason we are calling on the government to come to our aid as we want to pay.
“It is for the government at the center to make a pronouncement as to what becomes of us,’’ he said.
Adeniyi, who is also the President of, Nigeria’s Employers Consultative Association (NECA), said that the ongoing challenge had the potential to make businesses pay double VAT in view of demands by the FIRS and state governments.
He said that businesses, as the collecting agents, were practically unclear on the authority to remit to and without a clear path, this would further aggravate the pain on businesses.
“It is a popular saying that where two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.
“It is no longer news that Nigerian businesses have been battling with myriads of challenges, making the survival of enterprises and ease of doing business in the country among the worst in this part of the world,’’ he said.
There has been controversy over the collection of VAT after a Federal High Court ruled that it was not the duty of the Federal Government to collect the tax.
VAT is normally collected by the Federal Government since the military era and the money is shared by the three tiers of government.
Following the court ruling, however, Lagos and Rivers states passed laws that allowed them to collect VAT.
FIRS, which used to collect the VAT on behalf of the Federal Government, has challenged the court ruling at the appellate court.
OPSN comprises the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, the Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NECA, Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industries and the Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises.
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