‘CBN’s interventions total 3.5% of GDP’
• Apex bank relives how it fortified economy against COVID-19
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), yesterday, said its cumulative interventions in critical sectors of the economy were over 3.5 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP as at the first quarter of this year.
Speaking during the CBN Special Day at the ongoing Enugu International Trade Fair in the capital, the governor, Godwin Emefiele, noted that intervening in households and businesses was part of the measures the apex bank took to stabilise the economy at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
He also mentioned the Information Communications Technology (ICT) sector as a significant source of resilience that mitigated the impact of the virus on the economy, stressing that the industry contributed over 17.8 per cent to the GDP by the end of 2020.
Emefiele said in response to the disease, the bank stimulated economic activities through targeted interventions in agriculture, manufacturing, electricity and construction.
Represented by the Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, Osita Nwanisobi, the CBN boss stated that the financial institution approved a one-year extension of the moratorium on principal repayments on its intervention facilities in addition to granting regulatory forbearance to banks to restructure loans given to sectors that were adversely affected by the pandemic.
He said: “We equally raised the loan –deposit ratio (LDR) from 60 to 65 per cent to encourage more lending by banks. The CBN also reduced the interest rate on its intervention loans from nine to five per cent and created a N150 billion targeted facility for affected households and small and medium enterprises through the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank. We have since decided to double this fund to about N300 billion in order to accommodate many more beneficiaries and boost consumer expenditure, which should positively impact output growth.”
Explaining that it floated a N1 trillion credit to boost local manufacturing and production across critical sectors, the lender of last resort submitted that it gave out grants under the Health Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme (HSRDIS) to five researchers in various medical fields a couple of weeks back.
Emefiele said HSRDIS was designed to trigger intense national research and development activities to develop a Nigerian vaccine, drugs and herbal medicines against the spread of the novel coronavirus and other communicable and non-communicable diseases.
In his remarks, President of Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA), Sir Emeka Nwandu, commended the apex bank for making loans available to the SMEs, observing that disbursements had been very slow and low since the second quarter of 2020.
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