By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
The Central Bank of Nigeria has unveiled measures that would be implemented in the fourth quarter of this year to take the economy out of recession.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele unveiled the measures on Tuesday while speaking at the end of the two day Monetary Policy Committee meeting held in Abuja.
Emefiele assured Nigerians that the current recession will be short-lived, as the apex bank has a cocktail of policies and programmes aimed at urgently reflating the economy and pulling it out of the woods by the first quarter of 2021.
He said that the CBN will sustain its intervention programmes across the economy; which covers households, small businesses and corporate organizations.
Emefiele said, “The Committee noted that the contraction had bottomed out, since it moderated significantly from -6.10 to -3.62 per cent in the third quarter of 2020.
“This was so because both the monetary and fiscal authorities had anticipated the impending recession and had put measures in place for its quick reversion.
“Some of these measures include the Economic Sustainability Programme by the Federal Government and other CBN facilities targeted at households, small and medium enterprises, youth empowerment, and reduction of unemployment.
“It thus, urged the Federal Government to maintain its initiatives targeted at reducing unemployment, particularly amongst the youths, citing the recent EndSARS protests and ensuing agitation by hoodlums as potentially disruptive to output growth in Nigeria.
“To this end, the MPC reiterated its support for the various development finance initiatives of the CBN to stimulate production and reduce unemployment.
“MPC further encouraged the Bank to intensify its efforts by increasing funding to more beneficiaries so as to boost consumer spending and accelerate recovery from recession.”
On the Targeted Credit Facility, he said while N50bn was set aside for the programme in March, the disbursement had hit N159bn to 317,000 beneficiaries.
He said plans are underway to grow the fund to between N250bn to N300bn in the nearest future to boost spending and encourage small businesses.
Emefiele revealed that under the intervention programmes of the CBN, N871bn has since been disbursed to general commerce, N231bn to the ICT sector, N100bn for healthcare and hospitals and N1trn to corporate organizations.
“We will ensure the economic sustainability programme runs, reduce unemployment, deal with disability caused by #EndSARS, increase funding for MSMEs and other Corporate organizations.
“All these will help us exit recession. We’ve been urged by the MPC to maintain exchange rate and financial system stability and ensure that Non Performing Loan remains low.
“What we’ve done in agric and manufacturing will create jobs, create spending and moderate inflation.
“What is happening today is a global phenomenon. We are working hard to diversify the economy from oil. Crude oil contribution is reducing and non-oil revenue increasing. We want it to remain that way.
” It’s time to diversify our economy and we found agriculture before oil. We are doing a lot in agriculture”, he said.
On the soaring food prices, Emefiele expressed hopes that the worrisome development is expected to moderate as harvest sets in.
He noted that the current inflation was driven from the supply side and the disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To avoid public health crisis, Emefiele urged the Federal Government to quickly procure vaccines when ready to avoid health challenges that would impede economic progress.
On the speculative activities in the foreign exchange market, he said it was unfortunate that the exchange rate is being benchmarked at N480 to a dollar, lamenting that the development would harm the economy.
He described the parallel market as a place of corruption because those who play in that space offer bribes to procure foreign exchange due to paucity of relevant documents needed to access it through the Investment and Export window at N380/$1.
He added that Nigeria depreciated the naira by 24%, much lower than most developed nations.