Stakeholders laud CBN’s move to ban banks hindering SMEs’ access to forex

CBN building

Members of the Organised Private Sector have lauded the move by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to sanction erring banks hindering Small and Medium Enterprises’ (SMEs) access to foreign exchange.

According to them, many of the banks had continued to frustrate small businesses’ access to forex by using prohibitive charges and mechanisms to discourage operators, thereby pushing them to the black market.

President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Dr. Frank Jacobs, described the action as a welcome development, stating that commercial banks are sabotaging the economy.

He said that many members had been complaining about inability to access funds from the official window created for small businesses by the apex bank.

Also, the National President, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Bassey Edem, said: “We support that move by the CBN because the window was established to support the small ‎and medium enterprises, but the banks were doing some shady businesses, and all along, we have been saying that the SMEs have been having problems accessing the intervention funds from the banks.

“They prefer lending to much larger businesses against the smaller ones. I will support the CBN’s positions to ban those banks, and it will serve as a deterrent to the other banks.”

In the same vein, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (NASME), Eke Ubiji, noted that the banks allowed themselves to be caught in the web, adding that SMEs had been having challenges for a long time before the intervention by CBN through policy formulation.

Meanwhile, all the banks affected by the CBN sanction refused to comment on the development a day after the apex bank slammed about 11 banks for not giving SMEs the foreign exchange meant for their operations. Almost all the affected ones kept mum.

The ban came on the heels of several warnings by CBN to banks over complaints by customers that some banks have deliberately frustrated their efforts, particularly the SMEs.

Although the CBN refused to identify those it banned, while some of these banks’ communications officials opted not to speak on the matter, others did not respond to several calls and text messages sent to them.

According to sources from one of the affected banks, its inclusion in the list came as a surprise, as it has since inception of the window embarked on extensive awareness for the operators to access the forex.

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