By Chijioke Nelson and Tobi Awodipe
The much expected five per cent equity funding for agriculture and enterprise from the profits of Deposit Money Banks’ in the country has hit N26 billion. The Bankers Committee, had at the end of its yearly retreat last December agreed to use five per cent of its profit to support agriculture and small and medium business operators at single digit interest rate.
With that amount, the committee, at the end of its 333rd meeting in Lagos yesterday, said that it was now ready to assist viable business start-ups to boost economic activities.
Director of Banking Supervision Department, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Ahmed Abdullahi, said with the exchange rates nearing full convergence and inflation on steady decline, boosting small businesses will strengthen efforts to realise the exit of recession in third quarter.
Meanwhile, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said the country’s yearly inflation declined for four months in May to 16.25 per cent, against 17.24 per cent in the previous month.
However, the food price index remained high at 19.27 per cent, although lower than 19.30 per cent in April, a development that has raised concerns over the well-being of the people.
The Managing Director of Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, Bola Adesola, who addressed newsmen after the meeting, said although the framework for the disbursement was still being fine tuned, some businesses would still access the funds pending its conclusion.
She, however, assured that the committee was working hard with the Development Finance Department of CBN to ensure that it was completed soon. Meanwhile, the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has decried the late passage of the 2017 budget, describing it as a major contributor to low level of implementation as with past budgets.
In a statement by its president, Iyalode Alaba Lawson, the association queried why the National Assembly reduced allocations for vital projects and ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), while increasing their allocations significantly.
“We also note the allegations that the National Assembly increased the budget by N143 billion without explaining where the additional funding would come from, a development that instigated resistance from the Executive Arm to the Appropriation Bill, while contending that the ‘distortions’ would adversely affect the implementation of the budget,” it said.