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RIVERS GOV TASKS CBN, BANK CHIEFS ON EMPLOYMENT

By NBF News
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Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi has berated the level of unemployment arising from the reform agenda of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and has, therefore, called on the apex bank's Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and all the managing directors of banks to pay attention to job creation and security.

According to the governor: 'The post banking reform has been characterized by job losses in the sector. This has affected the larger economy and increased the challenges of finding work for the youths. It has also increased the insecurity in the land.

'It is arguable whether the banking system that could not guarantee jobs in its sector could guarantee jobs in other sectors. I leave that for the CBN governor and all the managing directors of banks to answer,' Amaechi said.

Speaking at a recent award ceremony of the Forbes Africa man of the year won by banking guru, Amaechi urged banks to increase attention to the empowerment of the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in order to create commerce. He said the objective of the microfinance subsector is being undermined by inadequate support.

As such CBN and various state governments need to give practical attention to the national microfinance policy which requires that every state government should set aside at least one per cent of its annual budget to support the microfinance banks.

'Banks can help the economy by lending at concessionary rates to SMEs and manufacturing outfits, thereby can create and sustaining jobs in the economy. This will increase production of goods and services in our less productive economy and provide jobs for the teeming unemployed youths. Also consumer lending at affordable rates can increase the purchasing power of the citizenry to encourage demand of goods and services that supports industry and encourages growth,' the Rivers State governor maintained.

In developed economies, he added, the growth of their economies are measured by indices that make sense to the ordinary people. These are new Car registration, new home purchases, retail trade volumes, increase in volume and direction of trade in the stock exchange.

He regretted that Nigeria's purported seven percent GDP growth is dominated by the oil industry at the expense of the real sectors of the economy.

Responding, Sanusi who dedicated the award to over 5000 staff of the central bank, acknowledged, the support of the late president Musa Yar'Adua, President Goodluck Jonathan, past and present ministers of finance, past chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mrs Farida Waziri.

Though Sanusi agreed that Nigerian banks layed off workers; he inferred that they are also recruiting. He stated that CBN and the affected banks have not exaggerated the number of job losses in the banking industry, 'but people should realize that as banking gets more and more reliant on technology, what we are going to get is fewer and fewer banks' staff involvement per transaction,' the CBN boss explained.

Sanusi believed that the problem is not that banks are not employing people, but that of how to get the banks to lend to real economy so that all those employment intensive areas like agriculture and industry could receive a boost. This according to him, informed the retreat bank chiefs at Enugu State in 2009 where various ideas were generated.

He agreed further that the Nigerian economy has to create jobs but frowned at the general believe that economic objectives are only to create jobs. Instead, 'what you do is grow an economy and the jobs will come. Policies create an environment for greater opportunities that encourages economic activities,' Sanusi reiterated.

He said banks are finance intermediaries but these can only be effective where there are right government policies. For instance, government has to provide infrastructure to make SME's viable and finance will follow.