The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele, on Monday unfolded the policy direction of his new five years tenure, promising to facilitate access to financial services to 95 per cent eligible Nigerians by 2024.
Mr Emefiele, who acknowledged much was still left to be achieved from a similar agenda set in July 5, 2014, due to various challenges, said he was confident the bank will meet the expectations of Nigerians in the next five years.
He reviewed the achievements and challenges of the CBN in his first tenure, saying with increased consultation and cooperation with the fiscal authorities and other interest groups, the agenda will be realised.
The vision of the bank under his management for the next five years, he said, will be to work closely with the fiscal authorities to target a double digit growth; bring down inflation to single digit; and accelerate the rate of employment.
“Put succinctly, our priorities at the CBN over the next five years are the following; First, preserve domestic macroeconomic and financial stability; Second, foster the development of a robust payments system infrastructure that will increase access to finance for all Nigerians thereby raising the financial inclusion rate in the country; Third, continue to work with the Deposit Money Banks to improve access to credit for not only small holder farmers and MSMEs but also consumer credit and mortgage facilities for bank customers. Our intervention support shall also be extended to our youth population who possess entrepreneurship skills in the creative industry,” Mr Emefiele said.
He said the CBN during the period will encourage the Deposit Money Banks to direct more focus in supporting the education sector, grow the country’s external reserves, and support efforts at diversifying the economy through CBN intervention programmes in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
On macro-economic stability, he said over the next five years, emphasis would be on supporting improved gross domestics product (GDP) growth and greater private sector investment.
According to him, the CBN intends to leverage monetary policy tools in supporting a low inflation environment, while seeking to maintain stability in our exchange rate.
He said decisions by the Monetary Policy Committee on inflation and interest rates will be dependent on insights generated from data on key economic variables.
Also, he said the CBN would also strive to continue to sustain a positive interest rate regime.
Monetary policy measures, he said. will be geared towards containing inflationary pressure and supporting improved productivity in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors.
To bring down the cost of food items, which have considerable weight in the Consumer Price Index basket, Mr Emefiele said the bank will work with other interest groups towards that objective.
“Our ultimate objective is to anchor the public’s inflation expectation at single digits in the medium to long run.
“We believe a low and stable inflationary environment is essential to the growth of our economy because it will help support long term planning by individuals and businesses,” he said.
On Exchange Rate Stability, Mr Emefiele said the bank will continue to operate a managed float exchange rate regime, to reduce the impact the continuous volatility in the exchange rate could have on the country’s economy.
He the CBN will support measures to increase and diversify Nigeria’s exports base and ultimately help in shoring up the country’s foreign reserves.
Nigeria, he said, remains committed to a free trade regime that is mutually beneficial; but, particularly aimed at supporting our domestic industries and creating jobs on a mass scale for Nigerians.
Consequently, he said, the CBN intends to aggressively implement its N500 billion financial support facility to boost the growth of the non-oil exports and improve non-oil export earnings.
To achieve Financial System Stability, Mr Emefiele said a resilient and stable financial system was imperative for continued growth of the country’s economy given the intermediation role of a financial institutions, to support the needs of individuals and businesses.
“In the next five years, we intend to pursue a programme of recapitalising the banking Industry to position Nigerian banks among the top 500 in the world.
“Banks will therefore be required to maintain higher levels of capital, as well as liquid assets in order to reduce the impact of an economic crisis on the financial system,” he said.