IN ONE year, Nigerian tier one banks have lent a sum total of N1.70 trillion to customers in small businesses across various sectors.
This is according to the analysis of the banks’ financial accounts published on the Nigerian exchange group (NGX) over one year, between 2020 and 2021, as obtained by The ICIR.
The tier one banks surveyed are First Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Holding Company (GTCO), Zenith Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa (UBA), and Access Holdings Plc.
They are commonly known as the FUGAZ.
The ICIR checks revealed that these banks lent to customers across sectors in agriculture, construction, education, finance and insurance, general commerce, government, information and communication, manufacturing, basic metal products, oil and gas, transportation and storage, power and energy and cement, among others.
First Bank Plc paid out N222 billion as loans for 2021, up from N176.41bn in 2020, while UBA Plc’s loans for the period was N2.68trn, as against N2.55bn it paid in 2020.
GTCO’s loans grew to N31.19bn in 2021, from N28.55bn in 2020; Access Holdings reported the sum of N4.31trn in 2021 as loans to small businesses, compared to N3.36trn in the corresponding period of 2020; and Zenith Bank Plc recorded N3.50trn worth of gross loans in 2021, up from N2.91trn in 2020.
All of these culminated in a total of N10.74trn worth of disbursed loans to many sectors in 2021, compared to N9.04trn in 2020, a difference of N1.7trn, representing a rise of 18.79 per cent.
Borrowers will have to be paying more on their loans this year. Last month, the Central Bank on Nigeria (CBN) raised the benchmark interest rate from 11.5 per cent to 13.5 per cent at its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting, the first time in two years it would be doing so, having pursued an expansionary monetary policy in the last 24 months.
The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the move was to prevent looming inflation. Already, the World Bank had warned of a possible stagflation where global growth was expected to slow from 5.7 per cent in 2021 to 2.9 per cent this year, according to its latest economic forecast released earlier this month.
Wikipedia explains stagflation as a recession-inflation situation in which the inflation rate is high, the economic growth rate slows, and unemployment remains steadily high.
In Nigeria, financial experts have persistently advised firms against taking foreign-denominated loans. This is in the light of a surge in inflation rates across the world’s developed economies, with the United States hitting a high of 8.6 per cent in May 2022.
Meanwhile, experts have kicked against the hike in the interest rates, fearing for the growth of small and medium scale businesses.
The president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mansur Ahmed, said that the move would compound the plight of manufacturers, especially the small-scale segment of the productive sector.
Ahmed said, “Commercial loans are already beyond the reach of manufacturers, especially the small and medium manufacturers. The continuous rising in food prices is worrisome. Then, exchange rate continues to go up. Where are we going as a country? The CBN leadership will have to do something about it.”
Similarly, an oil sector governance expert, Henry Ademola Adigun, decried the high lending rate.
“First is low revenue. Then there is the high cost of lending to businesses because of high inflationary surge. You saw the latest figure from the National Bureau of Statistics of inflation rising to 17.7 per cent,” Adigun explained.
Experienced Business reporter seeking the truth and upholding justice. Covered capital markets, aviation, maritime, road and rail, as well as economy. Email tips to email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @theminentmuyiwa and on Instagram @Hollumuyiwah.