A survey conducted by the Central Bank of Nigeria has shown that less than 30 per cent of Nigerians have access to banking facilities.
The President of the Association of Microfinance Banks, Rivers State, Mr. Victor Itonyo, quoted a CBN’s report at the inauguration of the body in Port Harcourt on Tuesday. Itonyo lamented the low level of activities in the microfinance sector of the economy and blamed the situation on poor funding.
He said a lot of Nigerians would have been able to obtain funds from microfinance banks, especially at the grassroots, if government had kept its side of the bargain on funding.
According to him, states and local government councils were expected to inject one per cent of their annual budgets into the microfinance sector.
He, however, said that states and local government councils had not complied with the directive, a situation that had starved microfinance institutions of funds.
Three years after they transformed from community banks to microfinance banks, Itonyo said the MFBs had not received any support from the government or allied institutions.
He said, “Statistical records based on a survey carried out by the CBN show that out of the over 140 million people in the country, less than three per cent of the people have access to banking facilities.
“The policy thrust of government also provides that one per cent of the states’ budgets should be channelled to support the activities of the microfinance banks.
“But surprisingly, the banks have not had access to such support since they started operations about three years ago. The activities of NAPEP through which the microfinance banks were supposed to benefit too, have not been encouraging.”
He also lamented the barrage of taxes levied on the banks and urged the Rivers State Government to put in place conducive environment for their operations.
The Senior Manager, Development Finance, CBN, Mr. Eze Okorie, said the microfinance policy in the country was under review.
Already, the CBN has set up an interdepartmental committee to study the policy document for the sector as well as the establishment of Entrepreneurial Development Centres, according to him.
The three EDC’s, located in Lagos, Kano and Onitsha, he noted, had trained over 27, 000 entrepreneurs in the country.