Efforts on economy’ll fail if interest rates remain high – Senate

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Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Nigeria's President of the Senate

The Senate on Tuesday stated that business enterprises could not survive under the current interest rates being charged by financial institutions, which range between 25 and 30 per cent.

The legislature noted that the economy would not grow despite the current efforts by the Federal Government to revive it if the interest rates remained high.

This was made known at a round-table between the Senate and stakeholders in the country’s financial and business sector in Abuja.

The round-table, which was held behind closed doors after the opening session, had in attendance the Central Bank of Nigeria; Deposit Money Banks; development finance institutions; Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria; Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation; Manufacturers Association of Nigeria; Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises; Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, and several other stakeholders.

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, while declaring the forum opened, stated that as much as Nigerians valued and commended the government’s new initiatives for growth, “they are also worried and have complained to us bitterly about the impossible interest rate regime our businesses face today to survive.”

Saraki stated, “It is inconceivable that businesses anywhere can survive on a 25 to 30 per cent interest rate regime. How can investors anywhere survive on these rates? How can they create jobs and make returns? But this is the situation our businesses currently live with.

“The Senate fully appreciates the economic complexities that determine interest rate regimes. It fully recognises that high inflation times call for interest rate hikes and such other arguments. But unless businesses are able to survive, inflation and all other market conditions alone will not make the difference.”

The CBN said it would increase its intervention to the manufacturing and agriculture sectors to make more funds available for business.

The Governor, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, according to a bank official who attended the session, told the committee that while the apex bank shared the sentiments about high interest rates, he maintained that there was a need to consider the current economic climate in which the banks were operating.

He said the CBN was mindful of this, adding that this was why it set aside special intervention funds at nine per cent for key sectors of the economy.

 

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