President Muhammadu Buhari has commended Nigerian banks, describing them as the most vibrant, creative and innovative sector in Africa. He commended the industry’s collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which has been a key anchor to his government’s food security programme.
Buhari, who spoke at a Stakeholders Engagement with the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), in Abuja, said he was aware of the challenges that hinder banks’ ability to lend to the real sector, noting that his government is also facing such challenges in the implementation of its various housing Programmes. He therefore urged the state governments to help address the issues by simplifying land acquisition matters, and promised to look into the other concerns of the industry. He said he was proud to see branches of Nigerian banks when he visits other African countries, saying: “I will ask all your members to continue to be great ambassadors of Nigeria, as they expand within Africa and beyond.”
Meanwhile, CIBN reaffirmed its call for the creation and full implementation of an Education Development Bank, to facilitate the achievement of 21 per cent budget ratio for education prescribed by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).President/Chairman of Council, CIBN, Dr. Uche Olowu, stressed that banks would manage all subsisting intervention funds set up toward ensuring education for all and enhancing its quality in the country.
According to Olowu, the establishment of the bank would provide a platform for all strategic stakeholders in the education sector to access short to long term loans at single-digit interest. He also acknowledged President Buhari’s political will and tenacity of purpose to rebuild the economy, and address the security challenges in various parts of the country, and reaffirmed the commitment of the banking and finance industry to ensuring a stable and secured financial system.
The Institute expressed concern on the erroneous public impression that banks are making huge profits at the expense of other sectors of the economy without any empirical evidence.
Olowu further expressed banks worry on the multiplicity of taxes by various government agents, which have continued to hamper their business operations, just as the provisions of Land Use Act is impacting negatively on their ability to extend mortgage-backed facilities.He therefore called for urgent harmonisation of the taxes to reduce the burden on banks, and a review the Land Use Act, to enforce property and security rights and address the bureaucracy around the Governor’s consent.
By Benjamin Alade