The Central Bank of Nigeria has assured Nigerians that the economy will witness a very positive outlook in 2018. This was the affirmation made by the Acting Director of Corporate Communication at the CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor.
Mr Okorafor disclosed this on Monday, February 26, 2018, during a tweet meet session where he interacted and responded to questions from stakeholders and the general public on Twitter, a popular social media and micro-blogging platform.
The tweet-meet which was anchored by a renowned economist, Mr. Paul Alaje had the hashtag #GrowthNG and focused on the efforts being taken by the Apex Bank to stimulate economic growth and stabilise the economy in the aftermath of its exit from recession in the last quarter of 2017.
Mr Okorafor maintained that Nigerians should expect a better year than 2017 because of the very positive economic indices which he identified as; “better oil price regime, better growth figures, stable exchange rate and a downward turn in the rate of inflation. Those are the markers of economic health so the Bank is very positive.” He stated.
The CBN spokesperson further said that the progress made in 2017 was as a result of “more prudent use of foreign exchange reserves, vigorous funding of food production and manufacturing by Central Bank and the introduction of a more flexible forex market especially the import-export window.”
Responding to a question from a from @HashEconomy on the surge in unemployment rate from 14 to 18.8% percent, Mr. Okorafor stated that even though employment was not one of the direct mandates of the Central Bank, the institution was funding agriculture and industry in order to create jobs.
He also disclosed that the interventions of the CBN such as Anchor Borrowers Programme, Micro, Small and Medium scale Enterprises, Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme, Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS) etc were all geared towards funding the real sector for job creation.
On the issue of Non-performing loans, Mr. Okorafor stated in response to a question by @NewsWireNGR that Non Performing Loans were actually decreasing as a result of the improving macroeconomic environment. However, he insisted that the Central Bank will continue to closely monitor the development and to take all measures to ensure financial stability.
Responding to a question from the moderator, Paul Alaje , Okorafor said that the CBN had gone into developmental functions because of gaps in Infrastructure like power, food supply and raw materials as in agriculture, among others because these sectors were key to price formation, cost of doing business, and ultimately monetary and price stability.
The Acting Director of Corporate Communications also disclosed that the Central Bank was funding processors across the country to ensure off-take of farmers’ harvests and due prices had been paid. The bank was also introducing the 2nd model of ABP with commodity associations, beginning with rice farmers for 300,000 farmers that will add 2 tons of rice to national output. This was in response to a question from a Twitter user, Ola (@naija4lifen) who wanted to know how the CBN was tackling the challenge of marketing the farm produce at the right price.
In reaction to a question from one of the participants regarding illegal deductions by banks, Mr Okorafor stated that excessive and illegal charges outside the Guide to Bank Charges published on the Central Bank’s website http://www.cbn.gov.ng are not allowed. He urged aggrieved customers to protest to the bank and if not satisfied should write via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07002255226 to complain.
He also assured Nigerians that the FOREX injections by the CBN worked according to plan and the Bank was sustaining its activities in the market to maintain stability and liquidity.