25th May 2024
Business & Economy News

Senate Threatens To Sanction Banks Over Unpaid N358 Billion Anchors Borrowers Loan

Senate Threatens To Sanction Banks Over Unpaid N358 Billion Anchors Borrowers Loan

The Senate has resolved to debit the accounts of commercial banks that guaranteed loans to beneficiaries of the Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The Senate vowed to carry out the process through the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The Senate ad hoc committee set up to investigate the printing of N27 trillion by the CBN through its Ways and Means overdraft and the disbursement of the Anchor Borrowers Programme under the Muhammadu Buhari administration issued the threat at its inaugural sitting on Tuesday. 

At its session with officials of the apex bank led by Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, CBN, Bala Bello, the Senate ad hoc team led by Senator Jibrin Isah was concerned that the outstanding sum of N358 billion carries the risk of being classified as bad debt.

Checks revealed that the Anchors Borrowers Programme was launched by former President Muhammadu Buhari on November 17, 2015, with the objective of creating a linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and smallholder farmers (SHFs) of the required key agricultural commodities.

The scheme, a creation of the CBN, was for the purpose of providing farm inputs in kind and cash (for farm labour) to smallholder farmers to boost production of these commodities, stabilise input supply to agro-processors, and address the country’s negative balance of payments on food.

Senator Isah who was not impressed with explanations offered by officials of the apex bank to restructure the loans, asked the apex bank to go after the collaterals offered by the defaulting beneficiaries through the Commercial Banks.

He said, “They defaulted, and why do they default? You can’t restructure the loan forever.! You can go after the collateral; you must up your game; we need to recover these monies.

“We can’t continue to restructure forever. We are talking about N358bn, which hasn’t been repaid and is at risk of default.

“For those that have defaulted, I suggest that we put a peg on the interest. Our focus should be on the principal. On that note, those loans must have been guaranteed by the banks.

“I want to believe that those banks must have covered their backs with collateral. I am sure no bank will grant loans without collateral.

“They must open up to you. We have the power to go through the whole hog by debiting them at source. We can do that; let them go to court,” he said.

Deputy Governor, CBN Corporate Services, Bala Bello, expressed regrets over the lack of supervision by the immediate past management of the CBN under its erstwhile Governor, Godwin Emefiele.

He assured the lawmakers that the new management was doing everything possible to recover the outstanding loans.

“On our own part, I want to tell you that the new management of CBN has given us a mandate to get the money back. We are under responsibility to recover this money; it belongs to taxpayers.

“It saddens my heart to answer questions about things we don’t know. But we inherit both assets and liabilities. Things could have been done better.”

Speaking on the Ways and Means advances, the Chairman of the Senate ad hoc Committee expressed disappointment that the CBN Act was observed in breach by its immediate past Governor, Godwin Emefiele, whom he noted unilaterally approved loans without recourse to the statutory approving authority, the Committee of Governors.

“Under the Ways and Means, the Committee of Governors should have been the approving authority. But the CBN Governor did not do that; he unilaterally approved.

“We also want to know the total figure of the ways and means because what we have here doesn’t add up. We want to know who got what,” he explained.

In his contribution, Senator Aliyu Wadada declared that in the document before the Senate, “there was nowhere Loans and Means Advances were tied to any specific projects or purchases. We need to invite their predecessor.”

Senator Isah also dropped the hint that the former CBN Governor could be invited to appear before the Senate ad hoc committee.

“That will be the last resort. The current CBN Governor must be invited. They have admitted that they inherited the assets and liabilities of the past administration. If he has no answers to our questions, we will invite his predecessor,” he added. 

– Nigerian Tribune

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