The House of Representatives has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to remove bottlenecks preventing Nigerians from accessing the N250 billion gas expansion facility at the bank.
Rep. Benson Babajimi, the Chairman of the ad hoc committee on petrol price hike said this on Wednesday, when CBN officials appeared before the committee.
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Babajimi said that the removal of the bottlenecks would cushion the effect of the removal of petrol subsidy on Nigerians.
“My point is that you oversight the commercial banks, you have the right and powers to remove bottlenecks.
“The information we are giving to you is that you go back and see how you can make the process seamless,” he said.
Responding, the Programmes Manager, CBN, Mr Clement Osawi, acknowledged that the bank had an intervention fund called Oil and Gas Stabilisation Fund.
He said that as a matter of procedure, most CBN interventions went through commercial banks to qualified beneficiaries.
Osawi said that the commercial banks had the responsibility to do the due diligence and feasibility studies on beneficiaries.
“From what you are saying, it is like a new venture where it is very difficult to assess the capacity of the person requesting for the funds.
“So the likelihood of them having access to large sums is very difficult; it is easier to give CBN funds to establishments with clear track records otherwise, CBN will be accused of just giving someone who is not doing anything with funds.
“For IPMAN to have mentioned it, they were informed that the facility exists; CBN can announce that there is a facility and ask commercial banks to send those qualified beneficiaries.
“You can stay for two years, they won’t send one; this is because having drafted the criteria, the commercial bank will tell you, we have checked this customer, we have checked the other customer, it is not okay,” he said.
Osawi, however, said that he would carry the message of the committee to the management of the apex bank for further actions.
Osawi blamed the current hike in petrol price on exchange rate and other factors playing out in the global oil market.