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“Banks Withholding N530bn of CBN Funds; Cardoso May Order Refund in Emefiele’s Social Programmes”

Ex-CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele

Approximately N531.4 billion in Central Bank of Nigeria intervention funds remains unused within the accounts of nine deposit money banks, according to findings .

The situation follows the suspension of all CBN intervention funds by the current governor of the apex bank, Olayemi Cardoso. Upon taking office, Cardoso ceased all development finance interventions, stating that the lines between monetary policy and fiscal intervention had become blurred.

Cardoso has refocused the CBN on its core mandate, shifting away from direct development finance interventions towards more limited advisory roles that support economic growth. The bank had previously engaged in various intervention programs, such as the Anchor Borrowers Programme, the 100-for-100 Policy on Production and Productivity, and other initiatives under former governor Godwin Emefiele.

Over N9.71 trillion in development finance intervention disbursements were reportedly made under the previous CBN administration.

Despite Cardoso’s decision, nine banks still hold over N530 billion in unused intervention funds from the central bank intended for disbursement to beneficiaries. These banks include Zenith Bank, Fidelity Bank, Access Bank, and Sterling Bank, among others.

The unused funds are spread across various CBN programs, such as the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme and the Real Sector Support Facility.

While the banks await direction from the central bank regarding these unused funds, small business operators have urged the CBN to allow banks to complete the disbursement of funds. However, the bank’s advisory role might lean toward ensuring efficient utilization and recovery of these funds rather than allowing the banks to retain them indefinitely.

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In addition, both the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit and the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending are moving to crack down on defaulters of the N1 trillion Anchor Borrowers’ loan scheme, aiming to recover outstanding debts from beneficiaries of the program.