By Favour Nnabugwu
The National Economic Reconstruction Fund, NERFUND, has compiled a list of customers to face the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over non-performing loans of N17.2 billion.
About 1, 143 projects, mainly in SMEs and Micro-categories, funded between 2010 and 2013, are said to have been involved in the N17.2 billion loan portfolio.
Acting Managing Director of NERFUND, Dr. Ezekiel Oseni, disclosed this in Abuja, yesterday, on the sidelines of a meeting with a delegation from African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association, AFRACA, led by the Secretary General, Mr. Saleh Gasua.
Until Oseni’s appointment last month, NERFUND, which was set up to provide needed medium-to long-term financing to Micro, Small and Medium Scale Industrial Enterprises, had been engulfed in serious crisis which prompted the Federal Government to shut it down.
Vanguard investigations revealed that part of the issues that triggered the tension in the agency was the huge loan portfolio of the bank which had rendered it incapacitated. Speaking in Abuja, the new Acting MD, Oseni, said the bank had launched an aggressive loan recovery drive.
He said: “Some of the strategies include identifying and engaging the various customers to work out repayment options and sales of the assets of those whose projects are on ground but unable to pay back.
“Many of the loans that constitute the N17.2 billion loans have been hanging for more than 10 years. What we are doing at present is to get the customers to repay. We have reached out to some of them.
“In the one month that I have resumed, many have been coming in to make some payments to us. I expect the rate of recovery to be higher than what we are experiencing right now. What we are planning to do is to give them a little more time to enable them to respond,” he said.
The NERFUND boss also stated that, as part of the moves to encourage repayment, the bank was ready to grant concession on the loan interest to certain category of customers.