By Lucy Nwachukwu/Joy Umeh
Abuja – The Federal Government on Friday expressed its commitment towards enhancing the effectiveness of Micro Finance Banks (MFBs) in the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by the Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Mrs Aisha Abubakar, said this at the 2018 Micro Finance Banking Conference/Award Night held in Abuja.
The theme of the conference is: “Financial Inclusion for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Development in Nigeria: Making Microfinance Banking Work.”
Buhari said the government recognised the challenges of the microfinance sector and had come up with policies to ensure the growth of the sector.
“Government is providing an enabling environment through the ease of doing business which underscores the provision of one stop shop for this administration.
“Financial stability of the banking sector is very vital for every economy particularly for Nigeria’s emerging economy; therefore the supervision of MFBs is necessary to build confidence in the sector.
“The CBN is already working on this and stakeholders are urged to cooperate with CBN in this regulatory role.
“It is an established fact that the government alone cannot provide the needed infrastructure for microfinance banking, government however calls for stakeholder collaboration to achieve this,” he said.
Buhari commended the management of the National Association of Micro Finance Banks (NAMB) in its effort to provide funding for people at the grass root.
He said: “There is no gainsaying that MFBs contribution in rural areas will ensure financial inclusion, expand the market, revamp the moribund industries and increase the country’s GDP.
In his remark, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, pledged the commitment of the National Assembly (NASS) to work with the association to contribute to national development.
Saraki was represented by Sen. Ibrahim Rafiu, Chairman Senate Committee on Banking and Currency.
He said the NASS recently passed several bills targeted at enhancing the effectiveness of MSME to access credit; this will ultimately help members of NAMB to improve their businesses.
Also Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State urged political leaders to support MSMEs in their various locations.
“We have put appropriate policies in place in my state, which have continued to yield positive results and I urge other political leaders to do same.
“We hope that in no distant time, MSME will be the engine of growth and financial inclusion in the country.
“I also appeal to stakeholders to create an enabling environment that will promote financial inclusion especially in the area of technology,” Akeredolu.
Dr Uche Olowu, President, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), said MFBs had a critical role to play for Nigeria to achieve financial inclusion.
Olowu said the MFBs were better positioned to deepen financial inclusion as they were closer to the grass root, thus, should be given the necessary support to be able to do so.
He advised the MFBs not to adopt the ways of the Deposit Money Banks, saying that if they did, it would not allow them achieve the purpose for which they were set up.