The Bank of Industry has kicked against the current move by the Senate to scrap it and establish the National Development Bank in its place. The Acting Managing Director, BoI, Mr. Waheed Olagunju, made this known on Monday at a public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions on the establishment of the NDB.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; and the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, however, backed the Senate on the move. A bill seeking to establish the NDB had passed second reading in the Senate on October 12. Titled: A Bill for an Act to establish the National Development Bank, 2015, and sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Gobir, it seeks to repeal the BoI, the Bank for Commerce and Industry Act and the National Economic Reconstruction Fund Act.
The bill further seeks to bring the total assets of the organisations under one body to be called the National Development Bank. Olagunju, in his presentation, insisted that the BoI was already fulfilling the mandate of the proposed development bank. The BoI boss stated that what was needed was more funding of the bank by the Federal Government so as to increase its support to the real sector rather than duplicate functions with the establishment of another bank with a similar purpose.
Olagunju said, We are of the opinion that the BoI, as presently constituted, is fulfilling the mandate envisaged in the proposed legislation by supporting genuine entrepreneurs. Therefore, it should be left to continue its operations as it is. The merger envisaged in the proposed bill has already taken place.
The BoI should be provided with more capital to be able to further support the real sector instead of duplicating functions by creating new development finance institutions, bearing in mind the failure of similar DFIs in the past, such as the NBCI, NERFUND, People Bank, Community Banks, etc. He added, We advise that the National Assembly should support industrialisation by enacting legislation that will help create an enabling environment for business to thrive, such as an amendment to the Land Use Act, tax incentives for SMEs and establishment of industrial parks.
This will substantially address the demand challenges of finance for SMEs in Nigeria, as vagaries of the business environment have been making the sector unattractive to private and public lenders. However, Adeosun, who was represented by a director in Ministry of Finance, Christopher Gabriel, said the ministry strongly supported the bill, adding that the proposal was in tandem with the economic reconstruction efforts of the Federal Government.