…Urges banking sector to brace up for recapitalisation
…Says foreign reserves now $45bn .Targets double digit growth
Motolani Oseni, Lagos and Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has unveiled a five-year economic blueprint that would drive growth for the country.
Emefiele said that in the next five years, the CBN under his watch, will continue to work to safeguard the stability of Nigeria’s financial system, while implementing policies that would ensure financial stability, price and exchange stability and improve access to credit for all eligible Nigerians.
Emefiele revealed this on Monday during a media briefing at the CBN headquarters in Abuja where he unveiled his policy direction for the next five years.
He said that he would pursue an economic agenda that would make the economy grow by double digits through targeted programmes that would boost output.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in April, 2019, reappointed Emefiele for another term of five years which analysts described as historic and a good development for the economy.
The apex bank governor said that the banking sector should brace up for fresh recapitalisation within the next five years.
“For the Next 5 years, we intend to sustain the pace of those consultations as this would act as barometer for measuring the progress being made in the implementation of our policies.
“Our assessment of the outcome of that deliberation shows that with concerted efforts, the challenges facing the country are easily surmountable.
“Working closely with our fiscal authorities, we pledge to target a double digit growth by the next five years and at the CBN, we commit to working assiduously to bringing down inflation to single digit; while accelerating the rate of employment,” he stated.
Emefiele said that their priorities at the CBN over the next 5 years are to preserve domestic macroeconomic and financial stability;
foster the development of a robust payments system infrastructure that will increase access to finance for all Nigerians thereby raising the financial inclusion rate in the country;
and continue to work with the Deposit Money Banks to improve access to credit for not only small holder farmers and MSMEs but also Consumer credit and mortgage facilities for bank customers.
“Our intervention support shall also be extended to our youth population who possess entrepreneurship skills in the creative industry,” he said.
The CBN governor said the country’s external reserves now stand at 45 billion dollars as of June 2019.
Emefiele said that the bank would put all necessary measure to ensure the steady growth of the country’s external reserves after the recession.
“I am delighted to note that our external reserves have risen from 23 billion dollars in October 2016 to over 45 billion dollars by June 2019.
“Inflation has also dropped from 18.72 per cent in January 2017 to 11.40 per cent in May.
“Our CBN purchasing manufacturers index has risen for 26 consecutive months since March 2017, indicating continuous growth in the manufacturing sector.
“As a result of measures implemented by the CBN which improved access to raw materials and finance for manufacturing firms, GDP growth has risen for seven consecutive quarters following the recession.
“And, our exchange rate has appreciated from over N525/$1 in February 2017 at the Bureau De Change window to N360/$1.
“With the improved inflow of foreign exchange, the exchange rate has remained stable around N360/$1 for the past 27 months,” he said.
According to him, with concerted efforts by the monetary and fiscal authorities, the bank implemented a series of measures which led to the recovery of the economy from the recession by the 1st Quarter of 2017.
“We shall also during this intervening period encourage our Deposit Money Banks to direct more focus in supporting the Education Sector; grow our external reserves;
and fifth, support efforts at diversifying the economy through our intervention programmes in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
“We are confident that when implemented, these measures will help to insulate our economy from potential shocks in the global economy.
“In my second term in office, part of my pledge, is to work to the best of my abilities in fulfilling these objectives,” he added.
The central bank governor assured that the bank will remain committed to fulfilling its mandated objectives of price and exchange rate stability.
He said that they would continue to work to safeguard the stability of our financial system, while supporting the development of a payment system infrastructure that will improve access to credit for all eligible Nigerians.
“Nevertheless, additional emphasis will be placed on supporting greater growth of our economy and in reducing unemployment, through targeted interventions in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors,” the apex bank governor added..
He disclosed that in keeping with the recent Presidential Directives, “we intend to: “Boost productivity growth through the provision of improved seedlings, as well as access to finance for rural farmers in the agricultural sector, across 10 different commodities namely: Rice, Maize, Cassava, Cocoa, Tomato, Cotton, Oil-palm, Poultry, Fish, and Livestock/Dairy.
“Our choice of these 10 crops is driven by the amount spent on the importation of these items into the country, and the over 10 million jobs that could be created over the next 5 years if efforts are made to expand cultivation and processing of these items in Nigeria.
“So far, we have held series of engagements with importers and producers of these products. Most of them have committed that they would install or expand their production capacities in Nigeria.
“We believe these measures will help to boost not only our domestic outputs but also improve our annual non-oil exports receipts from $2bn in 2018 to $12bn by 2023.”
He maintained that the bank would “build on the success of our Anchor Borrowers Programme and other intervention programmes geared towards supporting the growth of our agriculture.”