CBN to remain open while COVID-19 lasts, releases guideline to access N50bn COVID19 fund

Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, has said that it will keep it doors open for business just as it has released the guide line for accessing the N50 billion it set aside for companies hit by COVID19. In a statement in Abuja signed by Mr. Isaac Okorafor the CBN said “Following the current impact of the Corona Virus (COVID-19) on the global economy coupled with efforts by the Nigerian Government, including partial lockdown in some States and at the Federal level, to check the spread of the virus in Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) wishes to inform stakeholders and members of the Nigerian public that the Bank will remain open for business during this period. 

“As a responsible public institution and regulator, we have triggered our business continuity plans to ensure that the Bank’s operations remain largely undisrupted at this present time when social distancing has become key to checking further spread of the virus. We have also directed Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and other financial institutions to do same. The welfare and safety of our staff and their families, and indeed all Nigerians, remain top priority to us. Consequently, with effect from Wednesday, March 25, 2020, till further notice, only essential staff of the CBN Head Office and the 37 Branches of the Bank will be expected to report for duty daily. In other words, our staff in non-critical roles have been directed to stay at home and work remotely, when their services are required. 

“We have also directed all our staff to follow stipulated guidelines by the Federal Ministry of Health, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and other relevant health agencies of government to curb possible spread of the virus in Nigeria. For the avoidance of doubt, the CBN, in line with its mandate of ensuring monetary and price stability, will remain open for business during these trying times”. 

Meanwhile the apex bank has released the guidelines that must be followed by individuals and companies to access the N50billion targeted credit facility for households and Small and Medium Enterprises that are badly hit by COVID-19. This is contained in a circular issued by CBN and signed by its Director, Financial Policy and Regulation, Kevin Amugo. The apex bank had last week unveiled the fund in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which had led to unprecedented disruptions to global supply chains, sharp drop in global crude oil prices, turmoil in global stock and financial markets, lockdown of large swaths movements of persons in many countries, among others. The outcome of the disease have had severe consequences on households’ livelihoods and business activities, resulting from drop in global demand, declined consumer confidence and slowdown in production.

In this respect, the CBN introduced the N50billion Targeted Credit Facility as a stimulus package to support households and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. CBN said that those that can benefit from the fund are households with verifiable evidence of livelihood adversely impacted by COVID-19; existing enterprises with verifiable evidence of business activities adversely affected as a result of the pandemic and enterprises with bankable plans to take advantage of opportunities arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the CBN guideline, activities covered under the scheme include agricultural value chain activities; hospitality (accommodation and food services); health (pharmaceuticals and medical supplies); and airline service providers. 

Others are manufacturing/value addition; trading and any other income-generating activities as may be prescribed by the CBN. It said, “The scheme would be financed from the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund and the eligible participating financial institution for the Scheme would be NIRSAL Microfinance Bank.” The apex bank added that the loan amount would be determined based on the activity, cashflow and industry size of beneficiary, subject to a maximum of N25m for SMEs. It said households can access a maximum of N3million while working capital would be a maximum of 25 per cent of the average of the previous three years’ annual turnover

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