Commercial banks must review their loan exposure to oil and gas, agriculture, telecommunication sectors among others, the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed.
According to the apex bank, this will guarantee the stability of their operations.
CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele spoke on this at the weekend at the Financial Market Dealers Association (FMDA) annual conference in Lagos.
He said because financial market was undergoing a litmus test and that the time was ripe to review sectoral exposure.
Speaking on the theme: ”Role of Financial Markets in the Nigerian Economy Post-COVID-19″, Emefiele, who was represented by CBN Deputy Director, Financial Markets Department, Patrick Ajani, said banks and other financial markets players had been directed to “now critically assess their exposure to different sub-sectors while continually leveraging technology to support their business operations and continuity”.
The CBN boss asked banks to also critically assess their-party provider risks, including businesses within the value-chain of sectors funded by the banks.
A CBN data shows that the apex bank created N100 billion credit facility for the healthcare sector where 98 healthcare projects have been funded to the tune of N97.44 billion under the Healthcare Sector intervention Facility (HSIF) as of May 28.
There is also the Targeted Credit Facility of N100 billion, and N1 trillion to manufacturing sector out of which over N600 billion had been disbursed to manufacturers.
From January till date, N157.5 billion have been disbursed for 29 real sector projects under the Real Sector Support Facility, while N857.6 billion have been disbursed for 234 real sector projects from inception November 2018 till May 28, 2021.
Also from January to date, N26 billion have been disbursed for 10 projects under the COVID-19 Manufacturing Intervention Scheme (CMIS) while N255.9 billion have been disbursed for 78 projects under the CMIS from January 2020 till May 28, 2021.
In the five-year Policy Trust of the CBN- 2019 to 2024, Emefiele promised to improve access to credit for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as well as spur consumer spending to stimulate growth and enhance employment, among others.
Emefiele said the resilience of the structure needed to support the financial market is very paramount in ensuring that the processes of keeping the banks stable is realised.
He said the industry players witnessed other pre-existing issues that were worsened by the COVID-19.
According to him, in apparent reflection of the severe impact of the pandemic on the economy, 17 banks had earlier written to the CBN for permission to restructure 32,000 loans granted to individuals and businesses.
The said loans, amounting to several billions of naira, are going bad.
The apex bank’s directive further reinforces the need for cyber-resilience in the face of rapid technology adoption.
The CBN boss said the pandemic triggered precautionary demand for cash and liquidity, flight to safety amidst decline in government securities yields, especially bonds, adding that technological and pharmaceutical sectors regained their losses, while services tourism-oriented businesses and hospitality, among others suffered a major setback.
He said the pandemic equally led to massive disruptions in the economy and business operations, creating urgent need for businesses to adopt technology.
Emefiele said, “Market participants must collaborate closely to build back better. This will promote economic of scale and enhance synergy. Resilience in funding markets was also greatly tested during the pandemic which led to large-scale interventions by the CBN as seen in the targeted credit facility, moratorium, interest rebate, household and mortgage loans and regulatory forbearances by both the fiscal and monetary authorities to preserve the markets and ensure stability.”
He said the apex bank was very much aware of the pandemic threats that led to unprecedented disruptions in the global economy.
The bank chief said, “Since December 2019, despite containment and lockdowns and interventions, we saw economic recession due to the health-induced global crisis. At the onset of the pandemic, the financial market was uncertain of its length and severity.
“It was not until February 2020 that the global stock markets experienced major crash that reverberated across the world.”
Emefiele said the financial industry was in the position of strength at the outset of the pandemic, characterised by the strengthened capital and liquidity positions as well as ongoing implementation of some regulatory reforms including the Loan to Deposit Ratio (LDR) policy.
“Nonetheless, there are some remarkable threats in the markets including the reversal of the dominance of sovereign securities, drop in the yields of of government securities and slowdown of funds to the equities market,” he stated
He categorized the financial markets into three broad themes of “what did the financial markets do- funds mobilisation and credit utilization; assets and pricing of capital; liquidity and market making”.
He said the modus operandi of the financial markets in delivering theservices cannot be overemphasized, especially in the COVID-19 period.
This, he added, afforded the industry players opportunity to rethink the approach to numerous functions that the financial markets perform, and certainly, in terms of regulating the market.
He said, “The COVID-19 widened inequality and changes in consumer spending pattern, with required shortages in development of innovative products, to cater for the emerging needs. Furthermore, we have noticed the rapid and unprecedented shift from the traditional brick and mortal financial services to technology-driven services. The momentum of the degeneration, experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic is not expected to diminish.”
The dominance of the digital space, he noted, has expanded beyond the online retail e-commerce to include digital consultations for financial needs, digital payments, telemedicine, and educational requirements.
He said, “Therefore, in a world that is constantly evolving, especially in terms of technology, corporates and businesses must adopt these services to leverage on these applications and technology in providing financial services to their clients.
“This would require re-skilling of their staff, and ensuring that their staff are up to date in applying the technology needs.”
Raising confidence in the system, Emefiele said the rollout of vaccines have increased the opportunity to invest in the financial markets.
The CBN chief said, “In the post-COVID-19 period, the financial markets are expected to pay attention to the non-financial scenarios, in terms of switch indicators and how the market can be monitored, including intelligence gathering to optimize the gains of this period.
“Regulatory reforms will continue to take center stage of market vulnerabilities in creating market and institutional resilience. The COVID-19 is not over yet, despite the bold steps to curtail it. We need to ensure that the gains are not lost.