By Racheal Ishaya
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, on Monday said the current economic challenges facing the country are difficult, but surmountable.
Emefiele said this in Abuja when members of the Senate Committee on Banking and other institutions paid an oversight visit to the apex bank.
One of the economic challenges the CBN boss was referring to is the inflation rate which went from an average of 9.2 per cent in 2015 to 17.85 in Sept. 2016.
It is the highest inflation rate since October 2005, boosted by cost of food, housing and utilities.
Also the country is in recession, having witnessed negative growth for two consecutive quarters.
There is also the issue of volatile exchange rate and huge margin between the inter-bank rate and parallel market in spite of the introduction of a new foreign exchange policy.
The governor said that with the bank’s targeted interventions, the challenges facing the country would soon be over.
“We seek your support for the success of the activities of the CBN, especially at this difficult time in our country.
“I would like to place on record, the support that the CBN has received from the entire Senate in the course of carrying out our activities as regulators of the banking sector.
“I must confess that yes, it is difficult, but I must say that the challenges are easily surmountable.
“ We will, however, continue to crave the support of the Senate and the banking committee so that we can work together to achieve the common objective of making Nigeria habitable for Nigerians,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking and other financial institutions, Mr Rafiyu Ibrahim, said the entire members of the committee were at the CBN to get answers on the state of the economy.
“So we are here to listen to you and ask questions as lay men. We are most interested in getting answers on the implementation of the budget.
“We are interested in hearing from you in the areas of monetary policies. Most Nigerians believe that the monetary policies have contributed in plunging the country into recession.
“We will be interested in a breakdown of the various intervention programmes of the CBN. On this one, I believe there will be a need for CBN to send us all supporting documents.
“Also we want to know of all the loans the CBN has given out and how impactful it has been on the economy; the various bailout loans to states and repayment progress reports,’’ he said.
On hearing this, the CBN Governor excused newsmen from the interaction before tackling the committee’s questions.
The visit lasted for about five hours and afterwards, Ibrahim addressed newsmen.
Ibrahim said that the committee was satisfied with the explanations of the CBN concerning the economy.
He said that the CBN was working with the Ministry of Finance and other fiscal policy makers to take the country out of recession.