Lagarde: Nigeria’s Financial Sector Remains Solid

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ms. Christine Lagarde, on Wednesday affirmed that the Nigerian financial sector remained “strong and solid” and commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s efforts to stabilise the economy.

She, particularly approved of the apex bank’s push to encourage Nigerian banks to increase lending support the real sector of the economy, especially the small scale and medium enterprises.
The IMF boss said loans to the real sector should be at concessionary pricing in order to stimulate economic growth.

Lagarde, who met with officials of the CBN and chief executives of banks at the apex regulator’s headquarters earlier yesterday in Abuja however, challenged the banking system to do more to improve lending to the real sector.

Speaking briefly to journalists after the meeting, she said:”We had a chance to debate together, how the financial sector can better contribute to financing the economy and supporting the business and development of growth in Nigeria.”
She said:”From my perspective, it was a very objective meeting, very open, we had the chance to really exchange and consider how the system can improve further. The financial sector of Nigeria is strong, solid and needs to continue to be so but it also needs to lend to the real economy.”

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele also described the meeting with Largade as fruitful stressing that the banks had also committed to further boost lending to the real sector.
He said:”I’d like to thank the MD of the IMF for visiting Nigeria and the Central Bank of Nigeria this morning-where had very fruitful discussions and indeed, she gave support to the efforts of the CBN by trying to encourage the Nigerian banks to continue to support the real sector, the small scale enterprises in Nigeria.

“She, indeed, also put that we should try as much as possible to do those lending activities at very concessionary pricing, just like we are doing and indeed, the banks themselves have given their words that they’ll do their best notwithstanding the fiscal risks as well as some of the challenges we have in the environment.”

Later, Lagarde paid a courtesy visit to St. Theresa’s Motherless Children Home in Gwarimpa, where she made a donation of $7,500 (about N1.5 million) on behalf on the IMF to the orphanage. She urged the management to put the money to good use to cater for the children.

Accompanied by the CBN Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, Dr. Sarah Alade as well as the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, the IMF boss, after a presentation by the children, said nothing was as “heart-touching” as the visit to the orphanage and commended its founder, Mrs. Bolanle Dare for the initiative to give hope to the motherless.

Announcing her donation, Lagade said the Fund cared about the youth and poor as well as the orphaned and attached great interest in investment in education and children who are the future generation and tomorrow’s leaders.
On her part, the CBN deputy governor who said she was “deeply touched” by the display by the orphans also pledged the apex bank’s assistance to the motherless children facility.

She further appealed to well-meaning Nigerians to channel resources towards helping the vulnerable in the society.
Also, Adeosun, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mr. Mahmoud Dutse said though the present administration had earmarked the sum N500 million for the vulnerable group, government alone could not cater for the less privileged in the society.

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