By Babajide Komolafe
The Vice President ofÂ Â Â Â the EuropeanÂ Union Investment Bank (EIB), Mr. Plutarchos Sakellaris, has commended the on-going banking sector reforms, saying it would stimulate sustainable growth.
Addressing a press briefing during a visit to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the EIB boss expressed satisfaction over the on-going reforms in the banking sector, saying he was optimistic that the reforms will stimulate sustainable growth and help private sector to expand through proven best practice.
He remarked that the approach taken by the CBN â€œis similar in substance to moves taken by financial regulators both across Europe and beyond at a time of global economic turmoil, challenge and questioned confidence.â€
Sakellaris said â€œthe efforts of the CBN also mirrors the EIBâ€™s focus on investing in projects that promote economic growth and foster private development, especially where there is a strong potential for this benefit to be delivered to the wider region.â€
As such, support is also given to the public sector where government led initiatives are crucial to create a competitive business environment, he further stated.
The Vice President further stated that the reforms have succeeded in alleviating investors’ concerns over bad debts in banks and the restoration of confidence of both Nigerian and international investors.
He said measures to support liquidity in Nigeriaâ€™s banks and recapitalization improved confidence not only in the potential of Nigerian banks to stimulateÂ sustainable growth through proven best practice, but also play a greater role in helping the private sector to expand.
According to him, working to alleviate investors concerns over bad debt in banks has also been crucial in helping restore confidence of both Nigerian and international investors.
He said that the choice of Nigeria as the first country to be visited in 2010 â€œreflects the importance, respect and influence of Nigeria across the continentâ€.
He added thatÂ he will take back home the message of commitment on the part of Nigeriaâ€™s leading players aimed at restoring confidence in Nigerian banks and how these reforms will act as important agent for development.
The EIB Vice President further said that as a long-term lending institution of the European Union, whose shareholders comprise of the 27 member states, the European Union Investment Bank has been active across Africa for four decades.
Pointing out that though EIB committed about $1.5bn in 29 projects in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2009, Sakellaris hinted that more of such projects would be financed in 2010.
He also said that notable efforts of the EIB were done in collaboration with development institutions like the World Bank, Africa Development Bank,Â Â International Finance Corporation and European Commission.
In his welcome address, the CBN Governor, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, thanked all trading partners for their understanding and support as the CBN is committed to making Nigerian banks to be a proper monetary policy transmission mechanism and channels for credit.
Sanusi also reiterated the commitment of the apex bank in diversifying to non-financial areas crucial to economic development and therefore called for more collaborative efforts in strengthening the financial system and investment in projects that will promote such development.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Nigerian Ambassador to Belgium, Luxemburg and European Union, Alhaji Usman Baraya, promised to evolve the necessary synergy to strengthen the existing relationship between Nigeria and the European Union.