The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), banks and other members of the Bankers’ Committee have unanimously agreed to extend special facilities to Nigerian-registered airlines and the media industry to enable them adequately address the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing bank chief executives at the bi-monthly virtual meeting of the Bankers’ Committee yesterday, a statement quoted the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, as urging the banks to support local airlines, noting that such support is critical to helping the industry recover from the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic.
Emefiele also advised the banks to support the media to cope with the lingering pandemic in order to avoid massive job losses in the industry.
The CBN had in the advent of the COVID-19 in Nigeria, announced N1.2 trillion intervention funds to support critical sectors of the economy; out of which N1 trillion was to support local manufacturing sector and to boost import substitutions.
The remaining N100 billion of the intervention funds was to support the health sector in equipping laboratories and enhancing research to produce vaccines and test kits in Nigeria.
The bank, also in March 2020, unveiled guidelines for the implementation of a N100 billion Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) as a stimulus package to support households and micro, small and medium enterprises affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yesterday’s development from the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee might just be an answer to the optimism expressed by the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, who had said the ministry was hopeful that businesses in Nigeria’s aviation sector would be given the opportunity to access palliatives from the central bank.
“With support expected for the media in Nigeria, many media houses will be able to weather the storm generated by the pandemic,” the statement added.
Also, at the meeting, as part of its efforts to increase foreign exchange liquidity in the country, the CBN directed banks to submit the names, addresses and Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs) of exporters that have defaulted in repatriating their exports proceeds for further action.
The directive came barely 24 hours after the bank announced the abolition of third-party “Form M” payment.
The move by the CBN followed the adoption of the strategy to discourage over-invoicing, which some businesses have allegedly used to divert foreign exchange from the country through the opening of “Forms M” for which payment are routed through a buying company, agent, or other third parties.
The bank, in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee, had threatened sanctions against exporters who failed to repatriate foreign exchange proceeds from their international business.
The CBN stated that its foreign exchange manual provided that all exporters should repatriate export proceeds to the country to support the local currency and boost the economy.
In addition, Emefiele said he planned to meet chief executives of multinational companies in Nigeria to discuss the revamping of exports.
He said the central bank was ready to encourage the revamping of Nigeria’s export sector through deliberate policies to boost investment and job creation.
While decrying the situation where many Nigerian produce of export quality were waiting to be tapped, Emefiele said the CBN, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, would ensure the facilitation of a reboot of the Nigerian export market.
Alluding to President Muhammadu Buhari’s charge for Nigerians to produce what they eat and eat what they produce, he said the country had no choice but to diversify its economic base to end the reliance on crude oil.
The meeting is expected to come up with a roadmap on how best to revitalise the export sector in order to earn foreign exchange for the country as well as generate jobs for Nigerians.
Emefiele had earlier initiated a campaign tagged: ‘Produce, Add Value and Export’ (PAVE), especially for agricultural produce.