- Disburses N43.9bn under anchor borrowers programme
By Nse Anthony-Uko
(Sundiata Post) – The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it has recovered over N50 billion excess charges imposed on customers by banks.
Acting Director, Corporate Communications of the CBN Mr Isaac Okorafor who disclosed this while speaking at the ongoing Abuja International Trade Fair, said the apex bank remained committed to protecting customers from being burdened with excess charges by their banks.
Okorafor urged bank customers to go to the CBN website to see the approved bank charges services rendered by their banks to ensure they are not exploited.
Besides visiting the website, Okorafor advised the Banking public to report incidences of excessive charges they feel their banks may have imposed on them.
The CBN spokesman also disclosed that so far, the CBN has disbursed N43.92 billion to local farmers through the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), an agricultural intervention programme of the Bank.
Okorafor said the programme was done in association with 13 participating financial institutions with over 200,000 small holder farmers from 29 states.
He said also that through the ABP, 233,000 hectares of farmland were currently being cultivated with eight commodities comprising rice, wheat, maize, cotton, soyabeans, poultry, cassava and groundnuts in addition to fish farming.
The thrust of the ABP is the provision of farm inputs in kind and cash for farm labour to small holder farmers to boost production of the selected commodities, stabilize inputs supply to agro processors and address the country’s negative balance of payments on food.
Under the ABP, “at harvest, the small holder farmers supplies his or her produce to the Agro-processor, who pays the cash equivalent to the farmer’s account. We cannot let our farmers go hungry while we enrich farmers from other countries. This is why we said for some certain items, which are 41 in number, if you want to import any of them, go and look for your own foreign exchange.”
Okorafor added that “as a complimentary measure, we put in place the Anchor borrowers programme for agriculture to make farmers rise up and fill the space and gap created by the non importation of those items. The programme has given us over two million tons of rice when our national demand is at about six million tons. This has taken our national output to about four million tons in the first year.”
The CBN he said is “very hopeful that we will further add at least another 2 million tons of rice this year and that will take us up to 6 million tons. We are envisaging that by this time next year, Nigeria should be self sufficient in rice production.”
Okorafor said that to further position the economy on the path of sufficiency through non-oil exports and conserve foreign exchange, the apex bank had 17 intervention programmes running.
Notably amongst these are the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme fund, N200 billion Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme, N200 billion SME Restructuring and Refinacing Facility and the N300 billion power and airline intervention fund.
Similarly, there is the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme, Nigeria Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility, Export Rediscounting and Refinancing Facility, Export Stimulation facility and Paddy Aggregation Scheme amongst others.
Okorafor reiterated the bank’s commitment to continually reel out proactive policies and schemes to ensure that the Nigerian economy remained strong and sufficient through non-oil exports.
He also encouraged the public to come forward with their complaints if they feel they are being short changed by their banks.
He said that in the last three years, the Consumer Protection Department of the CBN had helped to get back about N50 billion of bank customers monies, who complained of excess or illegal charges by their bank..
Meanwhile the Second Deputy President, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ABUCCIMA) Alh. Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, urged the CBN to reconsider some of its policy stands as it negatively impacts on small businesses.
“Whilst we commend the CBN for its roles in getting our economy out of recession, we want to emphasise that the subsisting high lending rate is stifling production and productivity of the real sector.
The Micro Small and Medium Entreprises (MSMEs) have been on the receiving end of this. We therefore urge the CBN to reconsider its policy stand in this regard,” he said.