Recapitalisation: CPPE urges CBN to ensure safety of depositors’ funds

THE Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE) has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure the safety of depositors’ funds, noting that the proposed recapitalisation requirements for banks won’t increase materially in real terms when adjusted for inflation.

The CPPE chief executive officer, Muda Yusuf, made the appeal in a statement on Monday, April 1, while raising other concerns.

He said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) needed to assure depositors of the safety of their funds in the banking system, irrespective of banks’ current level of capitalisation.

He also said it was essential to sustain the banking public’s confidence in the soundness and stability of the Nigerian banking system, mainly because of the perception and vulnerable risks of smaller banks.  

“We implore the CBN to ensure minimum risk to shareholders and employees in the banking system, across the board. It is also imperative to guide against elevated concentration risks and the deepening of oligopolistic structure in the banking system.”

According to Yusuf, inflation has significantly eroded the value of banks’ minimum capital, making it imperative for recapitalisation.

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He noted the current minimum capital base for banks with international licenses was N50 billion, national banks N25 billion, and regional banks N10 billion.

The ICIR reported recently that the apex bank had raised the minimum capital requirements for the three categories of banks to N500 billion, N200 billion and N50 billion, respectively.

In 2005, when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) carried out the last recapitalisation for banks, the official exchange rate was about N130 to the dollar.

Yusuf said that the N25 billion for a national bank was equivalent to $192 million, explaining that today’s naira equivalent is about N250 billion.

Also, for a bank with an international license, it would be about $384 million, an equivalent of about N500 billion.

“The real issue is that inflation has weakened money’s value over time, making recapitalisation imperative and inevitable.

“The essence is to ensure the safety of depositors’ funds, strengthen the stability of the financial system, deepen resilience of the banking system and reposition the bank to support growth,” Yusuf stressed.

The CPPE boss also called on the apex bank to ensure minimum disruption of the banking system in the proposed review of the minimum capital requirements for banks.

“We commend the CBN for giving a timeline of 24 months for banks to comply. This would minimise disruptions and dislocations in the financial system. It would also ensure a smooth transition to the new capitalisation regime for banks,” Yusuf said.

The CPPE boss believes that with the current approach and timeline given by the CBN, the risk of bank collapse or hasty mergers and acquisitions should be minimised.

In keeping with the categorisation of banks, Yusuf said it was necessary to allow for inclusion and reduce the risk of dominance of the banking space by a few big banks.

He also raised concerns about the hefty interest rate spreads in the Nigerian banking system.

He pointed out that the spread between deposits and lending rates was sometimes as high as 20 per cent, which is one of the highest globally.

He also shared concern about the tenure of funds in the banking system, saying it needed to be longer.

“Over 80% per cent of funds are of one year tenure or less, which explains the high level of assets and liability tenure mismatch in the banking system.”



    Another concern he raised was the small businesses’ credit access, as it significantly inhibits economic growth and inclusion.

    “Small businesses account for over 50 per cent of GDP but get less than five per cent of credit in the banking system.

    “Financing gap in the Nigeria SME space is about $32.2 billion (over N40 trillion), according to IFC estimates. De-risking the credit space for small businesses should be accorded high priority in the new dispensation. This is essential to boost growth, create jobs and deepen economic inclusion.

    “The apex bank should caution all players in the banking sector against predatory and other anti-competitive practices in the industry because of the recapitalisation policy,” Yusuf added.

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