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Bankers Committee: N26bn Agric, SMEs funds ready for disbursement

The Bankers Committee has said that the N26billion equity funds earmarked for Agriculture and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) is ready for disbursement.

The Committee had during its last meeting in February, announced its decision to set up a special equity funds scheme to support the effort of the federal government in diversifying the economy through export drive and import substitution.

Speaking shortly after its 334th meeting on Thursday, the Director of Banking Supervision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Ahmed Abdullahi told finance correspondents that the Committee has concluded all arrangement to commence the disbursement of the N26billion equity fund launched by the Committee.

Abdullahi said thatthose who are interested in accessing such funds or looking for equity to support their agricultural ventures or small and medium scale enterprises should approach their banks now and apply.

He explained that once applied, the bank will carry out preliminary review and pass the requests on to the project review committee of the organization.
The Bankers Committee whose discussion centered on economy and the banking industry, also inaugurated a board of Agric and SMEs funds.

The Managing Director of Union Bank, Mr. Emeka Emuwa, said, “one of the things we discussed at the Bankers Committee to further supporting the growth in the economy was, inaugurating the board of Agric and SMEs fund (N26billion), all the banks are supposed to set aside a portion of their profits which would be made available for equity investment in agriculture and SMEs.So the board was inaugurated today-the project review committee of the fund.

“Basically the fund is ready to start implementing. In the course of few weeks, there will be more communication as to how to access those funds. Entrepreneurs, small businesses and agriculture, the opportunity are there for equity funding for their businesses.

Also speaking, the Managing Director of FSDH Merchant Bank, Mrs Hamda Ambah, said, “those who are interested in accessing such fund are looking for equity to support their agricultural ventures or small and medium scale enterprises should approach their banks now and apply so that the bank will do sort of preliminary review and pass these requests on to the project review committee of this organization.

Updating on the recession, ‎the Director, Banking Supervision, CBN,Mr Ahmed Abdullahi, ‎said, “we have a very strong believe that the Q2 that just passed seen the economy emerging out of recession and there are reasons to believe this. Major non-oil sectors of the economy have witnessed positive growth.

“Although the numbers are not yet released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), and because growth in this economy is driven largely by the non-oil sectors and a number of analysts believed that the economy would have been out of recession by the Q2 of 2017.

“We await the data from NBS to see and a number of other reasons as well. If you look at the confidence in the economy, if you look at the upsurge in the capital market, if you look at stability in the foreign exchange market, you will know that a lot of progress have been made in getting the country out of recession.

“This is a very healthy development and it is going to have a ravel effect on the banking system as well as other sectors of the economy generally. So, the Bankers Committee generally expressed its delight with this development in the economy,’ he said.

In addition, Mrs Ambah shared the view of the committee that although, the data are not yet out from the NBS, “but we do know that NBS has released figures continuously for the past four months for the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) and that index has shown positively months after months that for four consecutive months things are improving in the manufacturing sector, all these put together buttress the point that we are not totally out of recession but in the right direction.”

On her part, the Executive Director, Standard Chartered Bank, Mrs. Mobola Fatoye said, “one of the areas that get everyone excited is the foreign exchange market and thanks to the action of the CBN an investors and exporters window was set up in May and it was very interesting when we were going through the meeting today and the statistics was given to us, and fact that so far the volume of trading that has gone on in that market is about $4billion.

“That is actually quite a good figure and it shows that the bank has actually done a lot of rallying, it shows that the banks have been resilient, it shows that the banks have contributed largely in bringing in as many Foreign Direct Investments(FDIs)/FPIs investors to into the market. In fact, there was one particularly single ticket that was done on the first of August, and the price of the transaction itself was $240million.

“So we think, the things are really going to be looking up, we are very hopeful that we are going in the right direction and we will eventually get a stage where the rate will truly converge and that is where we want to get to,” she said.

The Bankers Committee said that the N26billion equity fund is a five per cent profit after tax contribution from each of the 25 member banks in the country.

The fund us domicile at the CBN and will be used to finance eligible bankable projects that are meant for export drive or import substitution.

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