LCCI urges CBN to review discriminatory loan policy
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to rethink its policy that barred certain businesses and their promoters from obtaining fresh loans from the banks.
Its President, Alhaji Remi Bello, who spoke when he led executives of LCCI on a visit to Origin Group Limited in Lagos over the weekend, said it was inappropriate for the banking sector regulator to criminalise those who approached banks for loans, or credit simply because their businesses had challenges and could not pay on the agreed terms.
He said: “ There’s need to revisit some of the policies of the Federal Government, especially the CBN’s regarding outright ban of people who were given loans and could not meet up with the repayment, not because of failure on their part, but because of the challenges the nation is facing, inclusive of the insurgency in the north, and very recently, the Ebola issue. There is need for a review of some of these policies by the CBN Governor.
“Some of these policies especially with the CBN with regard to some bad loans and facilities which were as a result of the challenges the nation is facing, most especially the insurgency in the north, the new CBN Governor will need to go back and look at some of these policies as they affect businesses that are under one intervention fund or the other, that are not able to operate now, they should be given some special consideration.”
He argued that an outright ban on people because they were involved in running business and could not meet up with their facilities, which was not because of failure on their part, but because of the failure in the environment, needs to be addressed seriously.
“Don’t criminalise people that are taking loans. It you are not taking loans and you are not taking facility, you are not in business,” he said.
The LCCI team, including its Director-General, Muda Yusuf, Otunba Dele Ajayi-Smith, was received by the Group Managing Director of Origin Group, Prince S. J. Samuel, who said his vision for the Group is to transform it into an entity that would ensure food security for the country.
He said the tractor hiring arm of the conglomerate is in the process of partnering with state governments to avail farmers the opportunities in the unit and help expand their yield per hectre, adding that some of their products, including vegefresh, have already made appreciable inroad into local and international markets.
Alhaji Bello expressed satisfaction at what he saw during the visit. “We have seen that this business is creating about 500 jobs as of now with the potential to grow job creation to about 3,000 in the future. We believe that with the necessary support and the right policies in place, it would be a lot better.”
He said LCCI would invite the Origin Group to join chamber as a member.
Also speaking, its Director General, Muda Yusuf, while acknowledging the vibrancy of the West African sub-regional market, regretted that the outbreak of the Ebola virus is a disincentive.
He said: “With the Ebola issue now, you know it’s a sub-regional problem, so when you talk of sub-regional trade at the moment, especially going as far as Liberia, Guinnea and Sierra Leone, it’s not an area you want to encourage any trade for now, But when you talk of normal circumstances, the prospects are good, there’re some progress with regards to the protocols on economic integration.
“But the key issues to be addressed are actually not tariff barrier, but the multiple check points that people face, infrastructure which has to do with transportation and the difficulty of moving goods around.”
Yusuf said if one looks at the trade volume and the trade statistics and the number of imports that are being recorded against Benin Republic, it will be clear that those imports are far beyond the capacity of that country. “Those things are meat for Nigeria. This is one of the things creating problems for this country and that is why businesses are closing down,” he said.
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