Bank workers will no longer nurse the fear of losing their jobs as the Bankers Committee yesterday halted retrenchment by banks.
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Director, Banking Supervision, Tokunbo Martins, told reporters after the Lagos meeting, that bank workers who had been living in fears over the possibility of losing their jobs should be assured that their jobs are no longer under threat.
She said: “One of the things we discussed was about the impending retrenchment in the banking industry. So, we understand that many bank workers are expressing fears about possible retrenchment in the industry. We discussed and the banks are now committed to not retrenching their staff (workers) going forward. So, whatever rumours are flying around about that mass retrenchment is happening or not happening, that is not true”.
Martins also assured the banking public that Nigeria’s financial sector is safe and sound. Although she admitted that Nigeria’s banks are facing economic challenges, she said the lenders “have strong capital buffers to weather the crisis.”
She also dismissed the report published by the Arqaam Capital insisting that some Nigerian banks are in crisis.
Martins said: “Yes there was discussion around the stability of the banking sector. But even without the discussion, as Director Banking Supervision of the Central Bank of Nigeria, I can tell you that the report is false. The banks are adequately capitalized, so the report is not true. That does not mean that the banking sector is not feeling the economic headwinds. The headwinds are also in every other jurisdictions. It is not strange. So, non-performing loans at 11.7 per cent is not what we should focus on”.
She assured that the banks have the capacity to absorb whatever losses that may arise from the level of non-performing loans in the industry. “But the fact is do the banks have the capacity to absorb any further loses that would arise? The answer is that they do. They have very strong capital buffers. Another thing that is important is does the banks have the capacity to generate huge income to absorb those loses,” she said.
“The underlying assets of the banks are still there, and they are good. So, I think you should totally dispel or ignore that type of story. It should be expected to have non-performing loans (NPLs). It is not the reason why any jurisdiction should be demonized. There are other jurisdictions that have NPLs as high as 15 per cent, 35 per cent and so on,” she said.
On the state of the foreign exchange market, Martins said bank customers that exceed $50,000 annual spend on Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) cards used abroad will be barred from the forex market.
She said: “In CBN’s move to manage demand for forex, there was a rule that was put in place that people are not allowed to withdraw more than $50,000 annually on their naira debit cards. For a while, the policy has been abused by bank customers, and the CBN had not taken any step to that effect. We have decided to take the steps now to enforce the rule. So, we want members of the public to remember that that rule is in place. All your accounts are linked to a particular BVN. Now, that BVN only allows you to withdraw only $50,000 per annum. If people continue to breach that rule, they will lose access to forex market,” she said.
The Committee also discussed the need to boost flow of forex to manufacturing sector, which employs millions of Nigerians. It said the approach would boost the production capacity of the manufacturing sector.
The need to improve the financial literacy among the youths as this year’s World Savings Day Celebration approaches was also discussed.
The committee also hammered on the need to promote Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), general commerce, general commerce, manufacturing, micro-finance bank and other banking-related products so as to create awareness as our nation gets older and stronger in banking services.
“We were also reminded of the roles and responsibility of banks to help grow the economy especially the manufacturing sector. As bank CEOs, we agreed to ensure that the economy grows. We also looked at how the country can leverage on the opportunity in the pension industry,” she said.