The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday said efforts are ongoing to reduce the country’s import bill by about 35 per cent.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence about five years ago on the diversification of the country’s economic base had already started to yield positive results.
The CBN governor, while receiving a delegation from the Central Bank of The Gambia (CBG), led by its governor, Mr. Buah Saidy, on a two-day working visit to the country, stated that the country currently has the potential to export and earn foreign currency from the production of urea for local production of fertiliser as well as petroleum product as soon as the Dangote refineries goes into operation by the first quarter of next year.
This, he said would help to reduce importation by about 35 per cent.
He said a country with a population of over 200 million should have food security, pointing out that this was why the CBN was aggressively looking into the area of food and, “where we can use our own available raw materials to produce what we need in our country”.
He said: “And we believe with time Nigeria will really be a greater country than it is today. We don’t think we are great yet because we have a high import dependence in the country and we are doing everything possible to reduce imports.
“But like you know, when we are able to reduce imports, encourage exports and encourage consumption spending and investment, those are some of the parameters that will ultimately boost our economy so that we can continue to see rapid growth in our GDP and see prosperity for our people.”
He also told the visiting team that the apex bank has vast experiences in IT and cybersecurity, adding that its infrastructure had been proven to be impregnable to hackers.
He said: “There were some protests sometime last year and when the protest was going on we saw that people were trying to hack into systems and they tried to hack into the CBN systems.
“I got a message that the CBN system had been hacked into and I said the CBN system cannot be hacked into. I called our director in charge of IT and she responded that we have enough firewall that prevented the hack into our system. So those are the kinds of experiences we can share with you though expensive but will share then with you and think of how to work together to collaborate with yours.”
However, Saidy, who also said the CBG was having a difficult time regulating the banks in the Gambia especially in the areas of meting out sanctions to erring financial institutions had further sought to know the magic which the CBN had adopted to sanction banks’ executives without repercussions.
Responding, however, Emefiele attributed the successes to the support which the apex bank had enjoyed from the National Assembly.
He said: “On the issue of the CBN independence, I thank you for the kind words. But I think the point is that we thank our own parliament. Our parliament has been extremely supportive of the CBN.
“They put in place a central bank Act that grants independence to the CBN and we have our Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act that also grants a lot of power and authority for the CBN to bite when we find people who want to take advantage of the system for their own personal benefit and we don’t breed any nonsense about people who try to take advantage of our system for their personal benefits.
“Everything must be done keeping in mind the overall national goals and objectives and that is why the CBN will act very fast on any economic agent that tries to undermine our policies and that’s why we are very firm on them.”
He said: “Working with your parliamentary I believe you can have laws that can give you the kind of independence that you need in any, practically most of the central banks in the world today have independence that gives them the power to be able to manage monetary policy in a way that is beneficial to their countries and economy.”
Emefiele also said the apex bank was doing everything possible, apart from looking at currency adjustment when necessary, to confront issues of supply management and ensure that economy grows.
He said the CBN had adopted demand management strategies that will help to curtail imports and ensure that some of those goods that can be produced locally are not imported.
Meanwhile, there are strong indications that CBN may seal an agreement with the Central Bank of the Gambia (CBG) to undertake the printing of legal tender for the latter.
This followed a request by the CBG for a possible collaboration as it seeks to address acute currency shortages in the country.
Already, Emefiele, while receiving a delegation, assured that the CBN has extremely competitive advantage to manage the currency printing job for The Gambia.
He said the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc which was established in the early 1960s had been printing currency for the country, adding that the facility has a lot of idle capacity to satisfy the demand of the CBG.
Among other considerations, Saidy had informed the CBN governor that it is currently costly and unsustainable for the Gambia to continue to rely on its printer – De La Rue of London – for its currency needs.
He added that the distance coupled with some logistics and resource constraints had partly led to a current situation whereby the country had witnessed acute shortage of currency with the attendant implications for the economy.
Emefiele, nevertheless, said: “I note your point on currency management. The Nigerian mint was set up in the early 1960s and we’ve been producing our currency since the early 60s and we have a lot of idle capacity to ensure that instead of you going to Europe or other countries, you will be able to benefit from our ideas.”
He said: “Our colleagues will take you to the security printing facility. Our colleagues that came in from Liberia two months ago were fascinated by the kind of facilities, we have at our Nigerian security printing and minting facility and I am sure that you will also enjoy them.
“And I am sure they will follow you back to the Gambia to see how they can help you to structure your economic order quantities so we can also be of assistance in printing your currency.
“And I can assure you that we can be extremely competitive if only from the stand point of logistics and freight from Europe but it’s just going to be a few hours from here to the Gambia and the rest of them.”
The CBG governor had further explained that it costs the bank about £70,000 to lift printed currencies from Sri Lanka to the Gambia.
He said: “We also need assistance in currency management. Right now we have a situation where we are running very low on currency and at some point I get scared because we cannot at the central bank run out of currency completely as that will be a disaster.
“So we want to learn from your estimate. We have a model but we have not looked at it yet – given to us by our printers – De La Rue. How they estimate the currency need of the country on yearly basis.
“But I think it has some defects otherwise, the acute shortage we have currently would not have happened.”
Saidy said: “We placed an order for three years of currency to be printed but again, the contract with De La Rue since independence they have been printing our currency.
“Yesterday in my interaction with the Deputy Governor, Mr. Kingsley Obiora, we realise that you print your own currency and I asked about security and he assured me that you have top of the line security features.
“So this is another area I would want us to exchange ideas and have discussions on how possibly if we decide to go with you we can collaborate with your assistance to be printing our currency.”
He said: “Again, it is closer, De La Rue is in London but they do the printing in Malta and also Sri Lanka. The last one was done in Sri Lanka.
“Lifting those things all the way to the Gambia is costly because we had to do some emergency order and that cost was going to be on CBG but with negotiations and assuming then that we will give them this contract of three years of printing our currency, they now paid for the flight – about £70,000 to lift those currencies to the Gambia.”
He also said the CBG was in the country to benefit from the CBN’s vast experiences on how it had successfully regulated the financial system and sought assistance in the areas of information technology, modernisation, cybersecurity, forex shipping and management, among others.
Zenith Bank GMD, Onyeagwu Emerges “CEO of the Year” as Zenith Bank Wins ‘Most Responsible Organisation in Africa’ at SERAS CSR Africa Awards 2021
Zenith Bank’s Group Managing Director/CEO, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, has emerged CEO of the Year for a second consecutive year at the Sustainability, Enterprise and Responsibility (SERAS) CSR Africa Awards held at the weekend in Lagos.
According to the judges, he was selected for a number of reasons, including engendering a culture that promotes the continued investment in social initiatives in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Under his leadership, the Zenith Bank’s social investments totalled NGN3.285 billion in 2020, representing nearly 2% of the Bank’s profit after tax.
The judges found him worthy for his commitment to promoting sustainability and responsible business practices in Nigeria, by his frontal leadership of sustainability in Zenith Bank, thereby enabling best industry practices in the banking sector, and for his passion for reducing carbon emissions in the Bank’s operations.
Zenith Bank Plc also emerged winner in four other categories at the SERAS CSR Africa Awards, carting home the awards for “Best Company in Reporting and Transparency”, “Best Company in Infrastructure Development”, “Best Company in Gender Equality and Women Empowerment”, and the coveted “Most Responsible Organisation in Africa”.
Zenith Bank was adjudged the Most Responsible Organisation in Africa, winning the overall best sustainability award, for its continued commitment to the tenets of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, within its immediate community and in the society at large.
The Bank also emerged as the winner in the category for Reporting and Transparency for its consistency in disclosing and communicating its sustainability journey and progress annually vis-a-vis environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals, in line with the guidelines and protocols set by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Nigeria Sustainable Banking Principles (NSBP), NigerianExchange (NGX), United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), and United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). The Bank also ensures the assurance of its sustainability report by reputable independent third parties. In 2021, the Bank’s 2020 sustainability report was assured by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and disseminated through the Bank’s website for the public and sent to all relevant stakeholders, including the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC).
In the infrastructure development category, the Bank was voted winner for its nation-building initiatives and investments, including supporting efforts towards establishing basic services and functional security, governance, and economic and infrastructure systems, especially in Nigeria. As a testament to this and in demonstration of its commitment to the development (often referred to as reform, restructuring and rebuilding) of the Nigeria Police Force for the preservation of law and order, protection of life and property, and law enforcement in Nigeria, the Bank supported the Lagos State Security Trust Fund with N500,000,000.00 for the provision of security-enhancing facilities and infrastructure. This is in addition to contributions to other state security trust funds.
Zenith Bank was adjudged winner in the category for the Best Company in Promotion of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment for its Z-Woman initiative, which offers credit facilities to women-owned businesses at a single-digit interest rate and for a gender-balanced workforce (Women make up about 50% of employees). During the reporting period, the number of women and women enterprises supported by the Bank, through the Z-Woman initiative, grew by 88.7%, from 391 in 2019 to 738 in 2020.
The Sustainability, Enterprise and Responsibility Awards (SERAS) is an initiative of TruCSR which celebrates and promotes investments by corporate organisations in the society through CSR and sustainability initiatives. It made its debut in 2007, and participation was opened to other countries of Africa in 2016.
The 2021 awards featured 387 projects by 97 organisations across Africa. The SERAS Jury Board consists of global thought and best-practices leaders from around the world such as Maria Sillanpaa (Finland); Nyasha Gwatidzo (Zimbabwe); Adesuwa Onyenokwe (Nigeria); Amjed Achour (Morocco); Charles Ojei (Nigeria); Ellen Gunning (Ireland); Gina Din-Kariuki (Kenya); Indira Kartallozi (England); Lampe Omoyele (Nigeria); Paul Kapelus (South Africa); and Scott Walker (England).
Having a FirstBank Salary Account Can Ease Your Money Problems, Find Out How…
“There is always a lot to spend money on, and sometimes the bills can’t wait for the salary to be paid” Tope complained when his wife informed him that they had run out of cooking gas and had to refill.
He had just moved to a new location with his family and the bills seemed to be coming at such speed that he could hardly keep up. Barely three weeks in the new apartment, the electricity bill had arrived. The new apartment was bigger than the last and their two double-seater cushions left too much space vacant in the seating room. They needed to get a couple more pieces of furniture to fill the space. His wife had not stopped reminding him of the car he promised to get, in order to ease mobility for the family.
Everyone has been a Tope at some point in time, and that is why everyone needs a financial partner like FirstBank, Nigeria’s premier and leading financial services brand. FirstBank offers a variety of loan products that can help you ease off the pressure as you work towards meeting pressing and urgent needs, as well as medium-term goals.
FirstAdvance is a digital product tailored for Salary Account holders, who have an urgent cash need and would want to access salary advances from the bank. If you have held a salary account with FirstBank for up to two months, you can access 50% of your monthly net salary and as much as half a million naira (N500,000).
A physical visit to the bank branch is not required as you can access it via the FirstMobile (FirstBank’s Mobile banking app) and USSD channels. To access the service via USSD, dial *894*11# from the phone number linked with your FirstBank account. This has proved to be the solution for many people while emergencies arise before payday. There is no point in waiting for month-end before you can take on those pressing financial obligations.
FirstCredit is another digital product designed to cater for non-salaried individuals. All that is required is for your account to have been active and transacting in FirstBank for six months or more to access FirstCredit. It provides customers with quick and easy access to loans to fund urgent transactions. You do not need a smartphone or a physical visit to the bank to get this done as well. This credit facility can be accessed using a mobile phone and the USSD banking code, *894*11#. You can access as much as N300,000 to be repaid within 30 days.
No physical documentation or collateral is required, neither do you need a physical visit to the bank to access both loans. Imagine the confidence that comes with sorting out your bills within minutes and without having to wait till month-end.
Salary accounts should do more than receive your monthly payments from your employer. It should be instrumental in making your day-to-day living easier, and this is what having your salary account with FirstBank can achieve for you. You can get a Personal Loan Against Salary (PLAS) if you have a longer-term project at hand or investments to make. It may be paying school fees for your kids, acquiring assets or renovating your properties, paying rent, taking professional examinations. Customers who qualify can access Up to N50 million based on their net monthly income and rates are competitive while offering long-term and flexible repayments up to 48 months tenor.
Despite all these benefits and ease in access to loans, it literarily costs nothing to open a FirstBank Salary Account. Zero opening balance, Zero minimum daily operating balance, Zero account maintenance charge, plus you even get your first debit card issued for free.
Truly, it is always “YOU FIRST” from FirstBank.
Nigerian Banks Disburse N7 Trillion Loans in 3 Years
In the last three years, commercial banks in Nigeria have disbursed over N7 trillion in loans and advances to their customers, a feat which the Central Bank of Nigeria said was achieved through the apex bank’s loans to deposit ratio (LDR) policy.
This was stated by the Deputy Governor, Financial Systems Stability of the CBN, Mrs Aishah Ahmad at the 40th anniversary summit of the Financial Institutions Training Centre (FITC) in Lagos on Friday. Ahmad noted that the LDR policy, which specified that a specific percentage of bank deposits must go out as loans and kicked off in 2019, had seen the rate at which banks lend to the economy improve largely.
In July 2019, the CBN had increased the minimum required LDR to 60% and then went on to review it upward to 65% later in the year which has since then helped the country’s economy, as well as increased retail lending to households.
The increase of the loans to deposit ratio being increased means that for the amounts of money being deposited in the banks, the banks are to increase the rate at which loans will be given against the deposited amount. For example, if $1 is deposited, the LDR increase to 65% would mean that the bank would give out the equivalent of 60.5 cents per one dollar.
According to Ahmad, the CBN has tried for years to endure that it drives lending to the real sector as she went on state that the policy established by CBN Governor Emefiele over the past years has placed emphasis on this, in terms of intervention funds and also in terms of some of the policies put in place like the loan to deposit radio (LDR) which has added about N7 trillion in loans.
Speaking on the stability of the banking sector, Ahmad stated that all the indicators point to its strength and stability, as well as its role as a catalyst towards the country’s recovery.
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