News Column

Why T-Bills, Lending Rates Remain High in Nigeria

June 9, 2014

Eromosele Abiodun



Findings by experts in the financial service sector have revealed that Nigeria's treasury bills (T-bill) and lending rates, adjusted for inflation, are the highest (other than Brazil) among leading emerging markets.

The new governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emiefele, had at his maiden press briefing in Abuja acknowledged this and highlighted plans to gradually reduce interest rates.

In a report made available to THISDAY, analysts at FBN Capital Limited maintain that while lending rates are indeed very high in Nigeria, it is so for several good reasons, including the need for portfolio inflows to underpin the naira exchange rate and the high cost base of the banks.

According to the experts, "our forecasts already show token cuts in the monetary policy rate of 50bps both this year and next. We are cautious as to the impact of such cuts on lending rates for the real economy.

Emefiele remarked that 'reducing the interest rate and maintaining the exchange rate are very daunting twin goals,' to which we add price stability, which he termed a 'cornerstone' to economic development. We have, therefore, continuity in monetary policy, which is consistent with his earlier remarks at his confirmation hearings at the Senate.

"At the same time, the eleventh governor favours the addition of the unemployment rate to the key variables in monetary policy-making. In time, the CBN might adopt a threshold rate as was the recent practice of the Federal Reserve in the US (6.5%).

The data now available would not allow such a step. The CBN's vision is now 'delivering price and financial system stability and promoting sustainable economic development'"

Emiefele's predecessor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, they argued also had a developmental agenda.

"We recall the N300 billion power and aviation fund, and the N200 billion credit guarantee scheme for SMEs, both dating from 2010. This time around, it may be more systematic since the CBN is to target 'predetermined' sectors for the impact of its measures on job creation and import reduction.

"The list is lengthy, and we mention three such sectors. The CBN's agricultural support will focus on improvements to productivity in segments such as rice where domestic growing can replace imports. In oil and gas, it will (together with the lead ministry) support initiatives for metering.

"In health, it will partner the private sector in developing hospitals, insurance and the production of pharmaceuticals. Finally, the presentation showed Emefiele's determination to consolidate the regulation of banks. He looks to enhance sectoral expertise in banking supervision and develop a national credit scoring system for borrowers," they stated.


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Source: AllAfrica


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