By Etuka Sunday
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday stated that the resumed implementation of the Cash-Less Policy was not meant to impoverish Nigerians but to encourage and deepen financial inclusion through the use of alternative channels in line with global best practice.
This was stated in an address delivered by the Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Mr Isaac Okorafor on the occasion of the “CBN Day” at the 2019 Abuja International Trade Fair.
Represented by the Deputy Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Mrs Veronica Aqua, Mr Okorafor restated the commitment of the bank to finance Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) for the rapid growth and development of the country’s economy.
Okorafor said, as part of its developmental functions, the Bank over the years, has continued its interventions in critical sectors of the economy especially in Agriculture, Power, Aviation, Health and Creative industry to kick-start robust economic growth and development of the country.
He said, currently, the Bank has twenty-nine (29) intervention programmes targeted at various stakeholder groups such as farmers, women, youth, small and medium enterprises.
He noted that some of these interventions, which had contributed significantly in driving Nigeria’s economic growth and development include the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF) designed to channel low interest funds to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sub-sector to enhance access by entrepreneurs, especially women and people living with disability (PWDs).
According to him, there was also the Small and Medium Enterprises Equity Investment Scheme (SMEEIS), an initiative of the Bankers’ Committee which was a direct response to the Federal Government’s concerns and policy measures for the promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as vehicles for rapid industrialization, sustainable economic development, poverty alleviation and employment generation.
He informed that “another major intervention programme is the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), designed and launched in 2015 to finance smallholder farmers and create economic linkage between the farmers and commodity processors/millers.
“A total of 255 private and 14 State Government anchors had participated in the scheme as at June, 2019 in addition to 1,140,854 farmers producing 17 different agricultural commodities had benefited from the Scheme with a view to increasing production and enhancing capacity utilisation in agro-processing Industry.
“Others include Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme (CACS), that commenced in 2009 to fast-track the development of the agricultural sector. The scheme provides credit facilities to commercial agricultural enterprises at a single digit interest rate. A total of 1,132,260 jobs along the various agricultural value chains had so far been created and capacity utilisation of the agroaliied companies have also been increased.
“Aware of the role of the youth group in the overall development of the economy, the Bank, in 2016, launched the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP) to facilitate an improved access to finance by youths in order to develop their entrepreneurial skills; stimulate job creation through the development of SMEs among youths; harness the entrepreneurial capacity of youths; and increase the contribution of the non-oil sector to GDP,” he said.
He said, “this year, the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee equally set up the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI). The aim of this scheme is to improve access to long-term, low-interest financing by entrepreneurs and investors in the creative industry and information technology (IT) subsectors as part of efforts to boost job creation in Nigeria especially amongst the youth.
“Licensing of Super Agents: The Bank had fully licensed 5 Super Agents while 7 others were on Approval In Principle (AIP) to enable them complement the efforts of the Mobile Money Operators (MMOs) to extend financial services to the unbanked, at a minimal cost.
“Shared Agent Network Expanslon Facility (SANEF): This project is a joint initiative of the CBN. DMBs and MMOs for the licensed agents and MMOs to deploy financial services outlets to the underbanked and unbanked areas.
“The Director said, the 2019 Abuja international Trade Fair with the theme: “Remodeling SMEs Financing: Options and Solutions” largely captures the focus and deliberate efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) towards stimulating economic growth through backward integration and expansion of small and medium enterprises, which are the engine of growth particularly in emerging economies such as ours.
He said, it was at the heart of what the Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele was committed to, by consolidating on the achievements of his first tenure to catalyze the development of small and medium enterprises for sustainable growth.
“let me re-assure you that the CBN under the leadership of the Governor, Mr. Godwin l. Emetiele, will continue to deliver on its mandates of ensuring monetary and price stability as well as developmental interventions ‘especially in areas of SMEs Financing for sustainable economic growth and development,” he said.
In his remarks, the President Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Prince Adetokunbo Kayode commended the bank under leadership of Mr Godwin Emefiele for its genuine efforts in stabilising the economy.
Represented by the Director General, ACCI, Mrs Tonia Shoyele, Prince Kayode addmitted that the Nigerian Payments System has witnessed remarkable achievements in the recent past, with the introduction of a number of initiatives under the payments system vision by the bank.