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COVID-19: CBN supports households, companies with N369bn

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disbursed a total of N369 billion to households and businesses that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the 13th annual conference of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) on Tuesday, Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, said it is important for the banking sector to support growth in sectors that have significant growth potential and can enhance the economy’s resilience to external shocks.

Giving a breakdown of the funds disbursed under the CBN’s intervention fund, Emefiele said 140,000 beneficiaries have received N69 billion from the N100 billion CBN COVID-19 support loans for households and SMEs.

“Initially, we planned for N50bn to be disbursed but we saw that there was more and more need from households and small businesses that were impacted by the pandemic,” he said.

“The CBN took the decision to increase the size of that intervention from N50bn to N100bn. To date, close to about N69bn of this fund has been disbursed to over 140,000 households and businesses.”

From the N100 billion intervention fund to pharmaceutical companies and healthcare practitioners intending to expand and strengthen the capacity of healthcare institutions, Emefiele said about 40 healthcare practitioners have received N45 billion and the fund is still available for those who need the support.

He said the apex bank also created a N1 trillion facility in loans to boost local manufacturing and production across critical sectors.

“So far, we have about N255bn of this amount that has been disbursed and you would observe that up to around last month,” Emefiele said.

“The purchasing managers index has been contracting downwards but as a result of these interventions, following the easing of the lockdown, we have observed that the index has begun a positive trajectory. And we are also calling on manufacturing companies and others to take advantage of this.”

The interventions, he said, will increase output and help the country avoid recession adding that it helped prevent a larger economic contraction in the second quarter as projected by analysts.

Emefiele urged the banking sector to consider ways under which it could increase its loans to the agriculture sector from 4 percent to 10 percent by 2024.

He said banks could also consider infrastructure finance and companies in the information and communication technology sector.

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