Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on faster disbursement of funds to fast-track the implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) , including the 5 million Solar Connection Scheme and the agriculture plans.
In addition, he advised the apex bank to review the foreign exchange strategy with a view to achieving a stable rate for the national currency in the forex market.
The Vice President made the appeal at the two-day Mid-Term Ministerial Performance Review retreat, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, where he delivered the progress report on the ESP implementation.
Osinbajo explained that so far N14 billion out of the allocated N471 billion as loans had been disbursed to farmers across 14 crop value chains under the ESP.
He also pointed out that the 5 million Solar Connections target was being delayed because while N140 billion was allocated through the CBN to facilitate it, only N7 billion of that has been disbursed,”
According to him, some key challenges of the implementation of the programme include the delay in disbursements by the apex bank and the risk aversion of public and private financial institutions, particularly for power projects.
The Vice President further clarified that the funding delays were noted on the Agriculture plan of the ESP, adding that even the N14 billion disbursed by the apex bank to commercial banks is yet to be utilised by farmers due to late release for the 2021 wet farming season.”
Similarly, Osinbajo also urged the CBN to consider reviewing its strategy on foreign exchange (forex) and ensure that the Naira value reflects the market reality in order not to deter investors from bringing foreign exchange into the country.
He expatiated: “As for the exchange rate, I think we need to move our rates to be as reflective of the market as possible. This, in my own respectful view, is the only way to improve supply.
“We can’t get new dollars into the system where the exchange rate is artificially low. And everyone knows by how much our reserves can grow. I’m convinced that the demand management strategy currently being adopted by the CBN needs a rethink, and that is my view” the Vice President added.
To ensure a more efficient financial system, Osinbajo advocated the need for synergy between the fiscal and the monetary authorities.