N500bn ESF: CBN to sanction exporters over failure to repatriate proceeds

By Omodele Adigun

Sanctions now await exporters under the N500billion Export Stimulation Facility (ESF) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) who failed to repatriate proceeds of their export back to the country. The committee also hinted that the N26 billion Agriculture/Small and Medium Enterprises(AGSME) fund is now set to be disbursed by the end of this last quarter of the year.

These were some of the outcomes of the meeting of the Bankers’ Committee comprising the Chief Executives of Commercial Bank and the management of the Central Bank in Lagos, Thursday.

According to Mr Ahmed Abdullahi  the Director of Banking Supervision of CBN, who spoke alongside Mr Kayode Akinkugbe, the Managing Director of FBN Merchant Bank; Mrs Tomi Somefun of Unity Bank, and Mr Emeka Emuwa of Union Bank, said the sanctions might include blacklisting the defaulters so that no bank would ever do business with them.

On the AGSME, the Bankers’ Committee stated that the framework for the disbursement of the fund was currently in the works and would be ready very soon. Disclosing this and the Committee’s decision on the ESF defaulters, Mrs Somefun said: ìAs you are all aware, CBN has created a special export intervention scheme to support export and  generate additional foreign exchange. This is going to be closely monitored and we expect that a lot of our SMEs will benefit from the scheme.

ìThe issue we had in the past was the failure of some exporters to repatriate the forex generated. And CBN has agreed with the Bankers’ Committee to sanction the defaulting exporters. This include blacklisting them so that no bank would do business with them again,”

Earlier Abdullahi who explained that the committee also noted the emergence of the country from recession, noted that more work needed to be done to achieve a robust GDP.

He added: ìWe recognise that the GDP growth is fragile; there is more work to be done in order to make the growth more robust. We are happy to note the vibrancy in the capital market; we are happy to note the moderation in inflation, but there is need for more work for the GDP growth to be deeper.”

The Committee also deliberated on Collateral Registry, Emuwa said that the fact that the process has started, “it is an opportunity for small businesses to put themselves in a better position to be able to access funding from banks,î adding that it would  also make it easier for the banks to facilitate the process of lending to SMES which, in turn, would contribute to employment generation in the country.

On the AGSME, Mrs Somefun said the N26billion would provide equity funding for agro-allied SMEs:

ìA special fund set up to the tune of N26billion to provide equity contribution for SMEs, especially in Agriculture.

The framework for this is being developed. This is being finalised and disbursement would start by the end of this quarter.î She stated.

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