Central Bank shortlists 1000 farmers for agric loans

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has shortlisted about 1,000 top farmers across the country in the first batch of beneficiaries to be granted agricultural loans to boost agriculture development and guarantee food security.

Managing director, Diamond Bank, Alex Oti, who announced this yesterday at the end of the Bankers’ Committee meeting in Abuja, said the names and addresses of the shortlisted farmers have already been circulated to all the banks, preparatory to having them provide support efforts towards increased food production.

CBN’s director, banking supervision, Samuel Oni, had earlier said the meeting focused its deliberations on a number of issues, including efforts to deepen the capital market to provide funding for infrastructure development; CBN intervention programme to ensure financial sector stability; development of the agricultural sector; and consumer protection.

Though he noted the significant progress by CBN towards the recapitalisation of the banks, Mr Oni condemned attempt by shareholders against some of the processes, saying the CBN is resolute in its pursuit of the process
to its conclusion as soon as possible, and would not tolerate any attempt to frustrate it by some vested interests through indefinite court injunctions.

Depositors’ interest

“We will take steps that are legally necessary to vacate those injunctions and allow the process to continue to its logical end. We will ensure that potential investors that have actually signed the Memoranda of Understanding to recapitalise the banks are allowed to do so. Whatever action is ultimately taken, depositors and creditors’ interests of the affected banks shall be protected 100 per cent. CBN will not allow any of them to suffer,” he said.

He urged shareholders of the banks with negative asset value to begin to think of a better way of resolving issues concerning their recapitalisation, pointing out that the reality of the situation is that the survival of the banks at the moment with the CBN’s interbank guarantee, which enables them to source for money to carry on their businesses.

Managing director, Zenith Bank, Godwin Emefiele, who spoke on the planned cashless policy, announced plans to commence the implementation process with Lagos State as pilot scheme under ‘Operation Cashless Lagos’ from
December 2012, saying this would entail an aggressive deployment of automated teller machines (ATMs) and POS terminals in various banks, as well as on/off site locations for use by customers at such places as shopping malls, airports, and factories throughout the state.

He said by December this year, about 40,000 ATMs per 100,000 persons would be deployed in different parts of Lagos, with plan to raise the number progressively to 75,000 June 2012, and 150,000 by December, while the
figure is expected to grow to about 375,000 by 2015.

A committee has been constituted to work out modalities to make the policy work seamlessly, as is operational in other climes.

Infrastructure development

On efforts to deepen the capital market to provide support for infrastructure development, particularly in the power sector, managing director, Stanbic IBTC, Sola David-Borha, said though the World Bank has already given partial risk guarantees to take care of the power sector distribution faults, there was need to address the residual risks inherent in
the power sector, to make the banks comfortable with lending to this sector.

She identified some of these risks as termination rights, transmission risks, and tenure, which are not covered by the partial risks guarantee under the various power purchase agreements, adding that the platform that the infrastructure bonds would be trade on would soon be approved, while pension fund administrators would soon be allowed to use PENCOM funds for infrastructure development.

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