COVID-19: Financial expert urges CBN to support banks

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

THE National Association of Seadogs, NAS, has advised the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the National Economic Summit Group, NESG, to focus on how to salvage the economy and not to engage in unnecessary disagreement.

Recall that the nation’s apex bank, the CBN and NESG had recently engaged in a disagreement over a statement credited to the latter titled ‘Matters of Urgent Attention’ which raised concerns over the performance of key indicators in the economy.

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In the statement, NESG commended efforts of the Federal Government at creating short term jobs across all facets of the economy as well as recognized the willingness of the Federal Government to work with the private sector in the design and implementation of national economic development plans.

In addition to calling for re-evaluation and re-tooling of the country’s security architecture to address the dire challenge of in-country insecurity; raising the emphasis on reopening national borders because of the negative impact its protracted closure has had on the free flow of legitimate trade among sub-regional economies, NESG’s analyses touched on various policies, decisions and actions of a number of other key national institutions, including, majorly, the Central Bank.

It expressed deep concern with what it described as CBN’s opacity in managing foreign exchange transactions; loan disbursements regarding its special purpose monetary interventions, and price-fixing without providing adequate clarity on policy objectives; trends and practices which are not in tandem “with evolving developmental roles of central banks around the world especially as it concerns resource allocations.”

NESG also published a letter it had written to the President, in which it specifically raised issues with some of the provisions of the bill for an Act to repeal the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2004, and to re-enact it and other matters connected therewith, 2020

The CBN in its reply defended its economic and financial policies for the past five years and hit NESG hard over its press release.

But NAS in a statement signed by its President, Mr Abiola Owoaje, with the title ‘CBN v NESG: Waving the White Flag for the benefit of Nigerians’, said it shared the view that the NESG as an economy and policy advocacy body was qualified to comment on matters of the economy and “express a contrasting opinion about the policies and interventions of the Federal Government and, or its agencies, including the CBN.”

Owoaje in the statement noted that dialogue on important and crucial issues affecting Nigerians was at the risk of being supplanted by a “collision of intellectual egos” called for a reality check on the performance of Nigeria economic policies as being implemented by the CBN.

According to him, “Like all very anxious and concerned Nigerians, we are entitled to – and expect – constructive engagements that will lead to the enactment of economic policies that create production-based jobs so the national economy can grow sustainably. As Nigerians face up to what is likely a fresh round of recession, all stakeholders in the economy must come together to ensure that our economic recovery plans are well thought through, backed by empirical data.

“The CBN should muster the humility to admit the fact that some of its policies have failed to deliver the expected outcomes and rather than create more jobs, have made the economy more atrophied; impoverishing more Nigerians than it has lifted out of poverty.

“We hereby call on the Federal Government; CBN, NESG, and other well-meaning institutions and stakeholders in the country to focus their energies on activities and commentary that galvanize the immense intellectual capacities that are available to the country to enact policies and intervention that provides very desperately needed socio-economic relief and support to long-suffering Nigerians. Nigerians need jobs, not invectives!”

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