By BAYO AMODU, Abuja and Bukola Idowu, Lagos
As the yuletide season draws closer, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the week ended increased its regular sale of foreign exchange, selling $513.9million dollars within the week.
The apex bank in easing forex liquidity had sold $210 million on Monday and another $303.9 million on Friday. While the Monday FOREX sale was to meet the needs of wholesale, small businesses and invisible demand, the Friday sale was mainly for the real sector.
Breakdown of the total sales on Friday indicate that much priority was given to the real sector of the economy with the sale of 75 per cent of the days sales amounting to $229.89 million for raw materials and machinery.
Confirming the sales, the acting director, Corporate Communications Department of the apex Bank, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, hinted that various sums were also offered to other vital sectors like the agriculture and airline which got $24.68 million and $12.467 million respectively, while petroleum products got $36.89 million.
On Monday, the sum of $100 million was offered to the wholesale segment, while the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) segment got an allocation of $55 million. The invisibles segment (i.e. tuition fees, medical payments and Basic Travel Allowance (BTA), among others) was also allocated $55 million.
On the performance of the foreign exchange market in the out-going year, the Director noted with nostalgia that the Naira exchange rate has not only remain stable and considerable accretion to the foreign reserves but Bank had so far met all the legitimate demands from genuine customers.
The value of the naira at the official window which had dropped to N307 during the week had firmed to N306.4by the close of trading on Friday while the value of the local currency remained stable at the parallel market selling at N363 to the dollar.
Meanwhile, the governor of the apex bank, Mr Godwin Emefiele, yesterday said that the bank would continue to support measures that would deepen penetration of financial services in the country.
Emefiele disclosed this while delivering a welcome address at the 9th annual Bankers Committee Retreat in Lagos.
According to him, the measure will capture those who are financially excluded from the system. The theme of the retreat is “Improving Financial Access, Enabling Job Creation and Driving Inclusive Growth in Nigeria’’.
He said such measures would also consider micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that were unable to obtain credit facilities from financial institutions. Emefiele identified some of the measures already taken by CBN to achieve the plan to include Biometric Verification Number (BVN) and Credit Reporting Act 2017 that led to the establishment of the Credit Bureaux. He said that the CBN, in order to drive adoption of financial services, partnered other stakeholders to develop agent-banking guidelines. According to him, agent banking is designed to encourage participation in the financial sector by individuals unfamiliar with the banking system through the provision of agents in underserved areas. He said part of the measures was the introduction of the Anchor Borrowers Programme with an investment of over N45 billion which had been effective in improving production, by smallholder farmers of rice, maize and soya beans. Others were Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme and Collateral Registry. “In furtherance of these efforts, this Bankers’ Committee retreat is rightfully focusing on strategies to address current constraints in improving access to finance for the unbanked. “It is also providing actionable steps that will be taken in order to ensure that they make meaningful contributions to Nigeria’s growth and development. “The retreat will also highlight and discuss key enablers for improving access to credit for MSMEs,” he added. Earlier, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State said for Nigeria to meet its growth ambitions and achieve full economic potential, concerted efforts must be made to create at least four million jobs annually. He added that policies that stifled development should be jettisoned. Ambode said it was time for the government to review such policies that inhibited growth, and as well come up with a well-functioning low cost financial system that would work for all Nigerians. He also said that all hands must be on deck to create more jobs for the people and ensure 6.7 per cent annual growth rate. “To meet our growth ambitions, we need jobs. Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics show that in employment terms, from a labour force population of about 81 million people. “We currently have 11.5 million people unemployed in Nigeria and 17 million people under-employed with the total employment is around 52.6 million while the working age population grows by 3.7 per cent every year. “So, to make a meaningful dent on un-employment and underemployment, and to reduce poverty which is at over 60 per cent, we need to be creating at least four million jobs per year.” He said it was painful that mobile money had been so slow to take off in Nigeria in spite of huge population. The governor said it remained very low, increasing from just 0.7 million adults in 2014 to 0.9 million in 2016, in spite of the fact that there were about 58.2 million people who actually had mobile phones in 2016.”
Ambode urged CBN, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Commission, commercial banks and stakeholders in the sector to decide the type of financial system that would impact on employment and bring more people into the formal financial system.
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