The Central Bank of Nigeria has said it will, together with the Deposit Money Banks, set up a new fund to boost agriculture and the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in the country, targeting at least N30bn for the first year.
The Governor, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this on Saturday at a press briefing after the eighth Bankers’ Committee annual retreat in Lagos.
He said the Agriculture/SME Fund would be unveiled on January 1, 2017, but the money would not be available until around March or April after the DMBs’ audited accounts would have been presented to the public.
Emefiele, who is also the Chairman of the Bankers’ Committee, said the committee would continue to promote an efficient and stable economy to deliver price stability, financial system stability, financial inclusion and economic growth.
According to him, the committee has defined goals for 2017 to include supporting government’s efforts to develop adequate infrastructure to engender viable and productive SMEs, and increasing access and cost of funding, particularly to the agriculture and manufacturing SMEs.
He said, “We will identify opportunities to provide funding and necessary support for agriculture and manufacturing SMEs, including structures and systems to improve the ease of regulatory compliance.
“The central bank will, together with the banking sector, establish an agriculture/SME fund from contributions of a portion of profit after taxes of Deposit Money Banks as a deliberate strategy to support the funding and access to finance by the SMEs and primary agriculture.”
The governor said the modality for the fund, which will operate as an equity fund, would be worked out by the Bankers’ Committee and communicated in due course.
He said the committee would continue to focus on capacity building and expansion as well as deepening awareness of available information infrastructure.
The communiqué issued at the end of the retreat, “Efforts will include providing industry-focused SME financial skills curriculum to develop financial and business capacity; promoting the need for capacity building; promoting the use of payment systems; providing shared structures for basic financial records; and providing the use of new and existing financial infrastructures for access to credit.
“Over the next few days, the Bankers’ Committee will finalise the strategy, governance framework action plan and assign responsibilities for implementation of the committee’s programme for 2017 that will achieve the desired results and outcomes.”