By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA-Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara has frowned at the high interest rates in Nigeria, saying it would continue to stifle businesses, discourage entrepreneurship and impoverish the country if left unchecked.
To this end, he Speaker called for the review of the policy.
The Speaker spoke whiling delivering his keynote address at a public presentation/launch of the book “Banking Reform in Nigeria” authored by Hon. Bode Ayorinde, member representing Owo/Ose Federal Constituency of Ondo State in Abuja on Monday.
He said “I have had cause to say this before, that unless you have assets or equipments, there is no way you can take loan, or access loans from Nigerian banks to do business.
“If you are not careful in taking loans from Nigerian banks, one will just end up in the poverty gap.
“I don’t think our citizens are supposed to do their businesses with money they already have in their pockets. Businesses elsewhere are executed by loans from the banking industry in those countries.
“I don’t know why the interest rate in Nigeria is so high. What is it that we can do to lower the cost of funds in Nigeria? So that our young men, women and entrepreneurs can risk taking money from our Financial Institutions in order to realize their dreams”.
Dogara who also lamented the political will to address the situation, however called on hands to be on deck in an effort to reverse the trend.
“That has been the challenge, from the point of view of the Executive down to the Parliament, the political will to address this has not been there.
“And the answer has always been that just one opinion cannot solve the issue, all hands need to work at it.
“So I believe that concerning some of these borrowing voyages such as been embarked upon recently can be avoided by applying the required formulas that work even here in Nigeria.
“The sharp parallel that is drawn between the practice here in Nigeria and the practices in over 20 other jurisdictions of the world”, he said.
Also speaking, the Author of the book, Hon. Ayorinde, said that the book was borne out the desire to improve the economy by making funds available at a better pricing for the development of the economy.
He said “What we are saying about reforming the banking basically is to expand financial inclusion, adjust the pricing of our lending.
“Seriously, as an Author, l believe that the pricing of our lending is on the high side and is one of the major reasons for non performing loans.
“If you look at pricing of funds in the developed nations, they are far in the single digit.
“So, it is the hope of the author that by this book, there would be some reform of regulation, reform in the operation and reform in practice.
“So that banking can base rate properly as a catalyst of economic development in this country,” he said.
The event attracted the presence of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akerrdolu and the Managing Director, Financial Derivatives, Bismark Rewane, who was one of the book reviewers.