CBN Stops N10 Trillion Devt Finance Funds, Ways And Means Advances To FG
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Olayemi Cardoso on Friday, February 9, said the apex bank will no longer grant Ways and Means Advances to the federal government unless the outstanding balance is settled.
The apex bank also said it has halted “quasi-fiscal measures” of over N10 trillion it pays under the guise of development finance interventions.
Cardoso revealed these when he appeared before the joint Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, Finance, and National Planning to address critical concerns related to exchange rates and inflationary pressures in the economy.
Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Olawale Edun, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu, and the Minister of Agriculture, Abubakar Kyari were also at the interactive session with the lawmakers
Ways and Means Advances is a loan facility through which the Central Bank of Nigeria finances the federal government’s budget deficits.
Last December, the National Assembly approved the securitization of the outstanding debit balance of N7.3 trillion of the Ways and Means Advances in the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Federal Government.
In March 2022, the Debt Management Office (DMO) announced that the Federal Government had borrowed a total of N18.16 trillion from the Central Bank.
The debt as of then was more than 40 percent of the money supply in the economy.
During the session with the Senate, Cardoso did not state whether the Federal Government had exceeded the allowable threshold of Ways and Means Advances.
But he insisted that the apex bank would not be a part of the Ways and Means agreement with the Federal Government again if it failed to repay all the outstanding debts it incurred through the Ways and Means Advances.
The CBN governor said its position was in line with section (38) of the CBN Act (2007).
Cardoso said that the payment of the outstanding balance of the Ways and Means Advances would help to curtail inflation in the country.
Cardoso said: “I am pleased to note the Fiscal Authorities efforts in discontinuing Ways and Means Advances. This is also in compliance with section (38) of the CBN Act (2007).
“The Bank is no longer at liberty to grant further Ways and Means Advances to the Federal Government until the outstanding balance as of December 31, 2023, is fully settled.
“The Bank must strictly adhere to the law limiting advances under Ways and Means to five percent of the previous year’s revenue.
“We have also halted quasi-fiscal measures of over N10trillion by the Central Bank of Nigeria under the guise of development finance interventions which hitherto contributed to flooding excess Naira and raising prices to the levels of Inflation we are grappling with today.
“The CBN’s adoption of the inflation-targeting framework involves clear communication and collaboration with fiscal authorities to achieve price stability, potentially leading to lowered policy rates, stimulating investment, and creating job opportunities.
“Our MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) meeting on the 26th and 27th of February is also expected to review the situation and take further decisions on these important issues.
“Inflationary pressures are expected to decline in 2024 due to the CBN’s inflation-targeting policy, aiming to rein in inflation to 21.4 percent in the medium term, aided by improved agricultural productivity and easing global supply chain pressures”.
On Foreign Exchange Management, the CBN boss said the nation’s “foreign exchange market is currently facing increased demand pressures, causing a continuous decline in the value of the naira.
“Factors contributing to this situation include speculative forex demand, inadequate forex supply increased capital outflows, and excess liquidity.
“The shift to a market-driven exchange rate was intended to create a stable macroeconomic environment and discourage currency hoarding.
“However, short-term volatilities are attributed to arbitrage and speculation.
“To address exchange rate volatility, a comprehensive strategy has been initiated to enhance liquidity in the FX markets.
“This includes unifying FX market segments, clearing outstanding FX obligations, introducing new operational mechanisms for BDCs and IMTOs, enforcing the Net Open Position limit, Open Market Operations, and adjusting the remunerable Standing Deposit Facility cap among others.
“These measures, aimed at ensuring a more market-oriented mechanism for exchange rate determination, will boost foreign exchange inflows, stabilize the exchange rate, and minimize its pass-through to domestic inflation.”
He insisted that the measures have already started yielding early results with “significant interest from Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) that have already begun to supply the much-needed foreign exchange to the economy.”
He added: “For example, upwards of $1 billion in the last few days came in to subscribe to the Nigeria Treasury Bill auction of N1trillion which saw an oversubscription earlier this week.
“Our measures aimed at improving USD supply into the Nigerian economy have significant potential in taming the volatility of the exchange rates.
“However, for these measures to be sustainable, we must as a country, moderate our demand for FX.”
He told the lawmakers that what has negatively impacted the exchange rate was the simultaneous decrease in the supply of, and increase in the demand for, US Dollars.
“It is also clear that the task of stabilizing the exchange rate, while an official mandate of the CBN, would necessitate efforts beyond the Bank itself.
“It will also include actions by corporations and individuals to reduce our frequent demand for the dollar for business and personal needs.
“I would like to underscore the importance of the ongoing collaboration between the Fiscal and Monetary authorities and particularly progress made with the Minister of Finance, Minister of Budget and National Planning, and the Minister of Agriculture on tackling a number of the issues challenging our economy today,” Cardoso said.