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CBN seeks refund of  N531.4bn intervention funds from Access, GTB, Zenith, other banks

About N531.4bn of the Central Bank of Nigeria's intervention funds remained unused in the coffers of nine Deposit Money Banks in the country.

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CBN seeks refund of  N531.4bn intervention funds from Access, GTB, Zenith, other banks

About N531.4bn of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s intervention funds remained unused in the coffers of nine Deposit Money Banks in the country.

This came up on the heels of the suspension of all CBN intervention funds by the incumbent governor of the Apex bank, Olayemi Cardoso.

Last October, the CBN governor upon assumption of office stopped all development finance interventions, stating that the lines between monetary policy and fiscal intervention had become blurred.

Thus, he said that in refocusing the CBN to its core mandate, there was a need to pull the CBN back from direct development finance interventions into more limited advisory roles that support economic growth.

READ ALSO:Reps give Fire Service one week deadline to refund N1.48bn COVID-19 intervention funds

The CBN under the embattled former governor, Godwin Emefiele, had delved into several intervention programmes such as the Anchor Borrowers Programme, the 100-for-100 Policy on Production and Productivity, the Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility, N1trillion Real Sector Facility, Agribusiness/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Fund amongst others.

Furthermore, over N9.71tn in development finance intervention disbursements were reportedly made under the previous CBN administration.

Cardoso further said, “In refocusing the CBN to its core mandate, there is a need to pull the CBN back from direct development finance interventions into more limited advisory roles that support economic growth.”

Its advisory roles would include acting “as a catalyst in the propagation of specialised institutions and financial products that support emerging sectors of the economy. Facilitate new regulatory frameworks to unlock dormant capital in land and property holdings.

“Accelerate access to consumer credit and expand financial inclusion to the masses. It would also focus on de-risking instrumentation to increase private sector investment in housing, textiles and clothing, food supply chain, healthcare, and educational supplies.”

However, latest findings show that nine banks still have over N530bn in unused intervention funds in their books.

An analysis of the banks’ latest financial statements showed that they still had funds received from the central bank intended for disbursement to beneficiaries.

The banks are Wema Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Access Bank Plc, Sterling Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, First City Monument Bank and Fidelity Bank, Zenith Bank and United Bank of Africa,

A further breakdown showed that Zenith Bank holds the highest amount of intervention funds, totalling N157.81bn, with Fidelity Bank following closely behind with N98.85bn. Third on the list is Access Bank with N94.63bn while Sterling Bank has N80.34bn. Other banks include GTB with N52.39bn, UBA (N20.87bn), FCMB (N13.17bn), Stanbic IBTC (N11.49bn) and Wema Bank has N1.83bn.

A cursory look at Zenith Bank showed that the bank has N12.65bn under the CBN Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, N122.42bn under the Salary Bailout Scheme was approved by the Federal Government to assist state governments in the settlement of outstanding salaries owed their workers.

Also, the bank has N13.42bn unallocated funds under the Real Sector Support Facility and N11.66bn under the National Food Security Programme.

For Access Bank, the bank has unused funds of Central Bank of Nigeria – Salary Bailout facilities worth N57.6bn while N8.2bn was unused under the Real Sector and Support Facility at the end of the 2023 financial year.

Similarly, Fidelity Bank has N4.95bn under its Real Sector Support Facility, N6.5bn from the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme and a CBN unused fund of N79.8bn.

Attempts to get an official reaction on what the apex bank is doing to recover unused funds from the banks was unsuccessful as of press time on Monday as the number of the acting Director of Communications, Hakama Sidi Ali, was unreachable.

However, a top official of the CBN who is not authorised to speak to the press, said the bank was aware of the situation. According to him, there are laid down rules for recovering such funds.

The official said, “There is a committee on the Anchor Borrowers Programme and they have been asked questions on the funds. The committee hasn’t concluded sitting so I can’t give a definite response. Also, when the loans were given out, there were laid down procedures between the banks and the apex bank, and those laws will be looked into to get back the funds, the official said.

Meanwhile, at the International Monetary Fund/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington DC, Cardoso restated that the apex bank would not return to development financing but focus on advisory roles on economic growth.

“Of course, the next thing in terms of sequencing was to make it abundantly clear that the era of interventions, which really hadn’t taken us anywhere, was over. I intended to go back to orthodox monetary policy. I think those were very important things to make very clear. I think that helped to set the stage for what came after. It was very important to continue to reemphasise those things in the process of building trust,” he said.

It is however unclear if the apex bank will allow banks to complete the disbursement of the funds currently with them.

But top officials of commercial banks said lenders would keep the funds until the central bank calls for them.

However, small business operators have asked that the CBN allow the banks to complete the disbursement of the funds that are still unused with the banks but sources in the CBN revealed that Cardoso has already approved a refund letter to the banks.

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