- Despite Drop in NPLs, Banks Still Cautious about Lending
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has revealed that the level of banking sector non- performing loans (NPLs) has declined from as high as 16.21 per cent it was in February 2018, to 14.15 per cent as of April 2018.
This is just as the bank has also undertaken to underwrite part of a $300 million loan, which was extended by the World Bank to the Nigerian Housing Finance Programme (NHFP).
But despite the decline in the level of NPLs in the industry, commercial banks have remained apathetic about lending to the private sector as credit to private sector (CPS) continues to shrink.
The CBN disclosed this in the personal statement of members of its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) at the last meeting that took place in May.
A copy of the members’ personal statement was posted on the central bank’s website Monday.
In his opinion, an MPC member, Robert Asogwa, expressed concern that the size of banking sector credit to the private sector was declining “and even at poorer levels when compared to the situation at the last MPC meeting”.
He added: “CBN Staff report show that the industry gross credit recorded a 3.63 per cent decrease in April 2018 and the lowest total ever since January 2017 and this happened despite the reported increases in total industry deposits.
“The earlier expectation that with economic recession over in 2017 and with recovery signs, credit to the private sector will pick up in the early parts of 2018 is yet to happen.”
He pointed out that since a reduction in the monetary policy rate might not likely result in any increase in private sector credit, non-interest rate-based strategies for stimulating private sector credit would be required at this time.
Asogwa said this could be achieved through targeted indirect policy instruments, which he said would surely be worthwhile in the immediate period and can be complemented by other short-term measures such as the current CBN development financing support to few critical sectors.
Also, another MPC member, Adeola Adenikinju, also expressed concern that “banks are more eager to strengthen their balance sheet than commit to new credits.”
He said: “The continuous preference of banks for relatively safer fixed income assets rather than direct lending to the real sector of the economy remains a critical challenge to current policy stance.
“Simply tinkering with the monetary policy rate (MPR) at this current state of the banking sector may not simply translate into more credit for the economy unless there is a way to creatively ‘de-risk’ the targeted real sectors of the economy.
“In general, the banking system witnessed growth in aggregate deposits in the first quarter of 2018, however, there was no corresponding increase in credit.
“This implies that more liquidity in the system may not mean more credit as is widely believed in the short term. The high operating expenses in the banking system need to be carefully addressed to reduce the high cost environment which in my view impacts more on lending rates than even the MPR.”
To the CBN Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability Directorate, Aishah Ahmad, the economic recovery was yet to reflect on the financial system.
According to her, banking sector lending rates has remained significantly high, which was an indication that the industry requires more impetus to substantially reflect the benefits of the ongoing recovery.
She said: “Thus, the monetary authority must work with the relevant financial institutions to entrench innovative measures to safely increase credit to the real sector.
“In addition and as a matter of urgency, prompt settlement of outstanding contractor arrears as earlier promised by the federal government will significantly moderate asset quality pressures and further improve resilience of the financial system.”
The next MPC holds on 23rd and 24th of this month.
Meanwhile, the Director, Other Financial Institutions Supervision Department, CBN, Mrs. Tokunbo Martins, who briefed journalists in Abuja, on the NHFP Monday, said the CBN “is underwriting part of the $300 million risk of the Housing Finance Programme”.
Martins, who spoke on the side lines of a conference seeking to explore solutions to mortgage financing in Nigeria, stated that the NHFP benefited from a loan of $300 million for 40 years, from the World Bank, adding that the CBN was underwriting the foreign exchange risks.
Martins said: “The CBN is the project implementing entity of the NHFP and the NHFP is meant to re-fund the primary and secondary markets for mortgages. It is a public-private partnership and we have a loan from the World Bank so the CBN itself is not putting anything in directly.”
Also speaking, the Head, Nigeria Housing Finance Programme domiciled in CBN and head of the implementation, Adedeji Jones Adesemoye, stated: “The major driver of the programme, the Nigeria Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC) funds (N8.2 billion and N11.1 billion) from the Nigerian capital market to refinance the mortgages that have been financed by primary mortgage institutions.”
According to him, a component of the mortgage package is that money will be disbursed through seven microfinance banks across the nation, this money is given to them in naira.
He added that “between now and November we will be launching mortgage guarantee company hopefully by the president to widen and bring us to the tail end of modern mortgage system in such a way that those mortgagees, the institutions that are lending to our people can actually share risk so that more people will have access to the housing fund”.
Also speaking at the event, a director at NMRC, Mrs Chii Akporji, said modern mortgage basically required certain steps that state governments needed to take in order to create the enabling environment for mortgages and housing investment to thrive.
She said: “There are a number of steps, essentially looking at issues of land titling, property registration, instituting a foreclosure mechanism, those are the key things that state governments are asked to look into with a view to reforming it.”
She regretted the delay in granting of governor’s consent, saying it usually took a long time, and advised that it be delegated to a commissioner.
She added that the difficulty is accessing land titles and urged state governments to leverage technology, digitize their land register to have adequate and proper record of who owns what in terms of land.
In terms of property registration she said: “Sometimes it takes years to register a property and so expensive. Studies we did found that in some states property registration takes up 45 per cent of the cost of the property itself. This is crazy.”
Going forward, the NMRC, she said, had asked state governors to review their charges downwards.
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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