Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in the country are to contribute 5 per cent of their annual Profit After Tax to an Agriculture Fund, which would be used to vigorously pursue the current administration’s efforts at diversifying the nation’s economy.
The Director of Banking Supervision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. Ahmad Abdullahi, disclosed this at the end of yesterday’s Bankers’ Committee meeting, in Abuja.
The fund to be domiciled in the CBN is to be used as equity stakes in agri-businesses and for other sectors that would make a success of the import-substitution programme of the federal government.
“The Bankers’ Committee has taken a decision to come up with an initiative in support of the federal government export drive by supporting SMEs and other businesses . Export drive as well as, import substitution and so have agreed to contribute 5 per cent of each bank’s Profit After Tax to a pool of funds that will be kept with the Central Bank of Nigeria and it will be used to finance eligible, bankable projects that are meant for export drive or import substitution.
“A Project Review Committee will asses submissions of projects and make recommendations to the Bankers’ Committee. The scheme is such that each bank has an equity holding based on its Annual contributions. “
Mr. Abdullahi explained that any industry that is into processing of agricultural produce towards export or towards imports substitution would be eligible to benefit from the scheme.
He added that the scheme would commence this year using 2016 Financial Accounts of banks which could be published anytime from April..
The bankers also agreed to re-Introduce Cashless policy into the country with a view to capturing all states of the federation between May and October, this year.
Mr. Chidi Umeanor, Head of Shared Services of the apex bank, some states including Lagos, Abia, Anambra, Kano, Ogun had already been covered and that the remaining 30 would be taken in three batches of 10. The first set of 10 would be brought captured in on the May 1; the second, Augusdt 1; and the third on October 1. “He said, “there have been a lot of sensitization and immense infrastructure had been put in place to provide the necessary platform for its success. We now feel that it time for us to re-introduce the cashless policy which we started in 2012.
“In doing this we take care to ensure that the vulnerable among us are well protected. Clearly we know that a lot of transactions that happen in the banking industry in terms of cash withdraws and deposits that less than 10 per cent do anything above n150, 000 0r 500, 000 . so nobody will be really affected negatively.
“ On Ponzi and other virtual currency businesses, CBN’s Spokesman, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor warned that they were unregulated and highly risky and that as such, Nigerians should avoid them.
His words, “Sine last year, we have issued statements asking Nigerians to beware of such schemes. They are not regulated. They are highly risky. Some of them were actually fraudulent but some Nigerians didn’t listen and a good number of them burnt their hands.
“The position has not changed. The committee’s position is that those schemes are not regulated and that Nigerians should beware of them. Don’t take your money to any institution that is not regulated by the CBN or insured by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance corporation.
“I am sure even SEC and the EFCC have given that kind of warning. That is where we are.”