Journalism of Courage

Failure to give out loans:Nigeria’s Apex Bank sanctions 12 banks

 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is to charge 12 banks a total of more than N400 billion ($1.3 billion) for failing to meet the bank’s requirement of minimum loan-to-deposit ratio latest by September.

Nigeria’s economy is expected to pick up in 2019 with gross domestic product expanding close to 3%, up from 1.9% last year, according to the central bank.

 

In July, the CBN directed  lenders to maintain a ratio of lending out at least 60% of deposits by September as part of measures aimed at getting credit flowing.

 

It had come up with policies to boost credit to businesses and consumers after a recent recession in Africa’s biggest economy, but lending has yet to pick up.

 

With growth slow, banks prefer to park cash in risk-free government securities rather than lend to companies and consumers.

 

However, bank chief executives plan to meet with the banking regulator in Abuja on Thursday to discuss the charges, according to sources.

 

The local units of Citibank and Standard Chartered Bank are among those affected.

 

Other include top tier Nigerian lender Guaranty Trust Bank.

 

Lenders have done little to expand borrowing in Nigeria, blaming a weak economy after a 2014 oil price crash and a currency crisis that made loans go sour. Analysts fear growing credit quickly could weaken asset quality and capital buffers.

 

The CNN  said loans rose 5.3% in the three months to the end of September to 16.40 trillion naira, due the new minimum requirement and increased the lending ratio target in what it said was a move to sustain the momentum.

 

In the last few months, the regulator has also capped interest-bearing deposits at the central bank and barred banks from buying treasury bills for their own accounts at an open market auction to boost lending in the country.

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