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REFORMS: CBN TO UNVEIL NEW MICROFINANCE POLICY IN JUNE

By NBF NEWS

A comprehensive policy that will reposition the microfinance sector and enable microfinance banks to effectively perform their roles will be unveiled by the Central Bank of Nigeria in June.

Our correspondent gathered on Wednesday that the apex bank might have jettisoned outsourcing the regulatory functions of that sector of the banking industry.

It was also learnt that the need to reposition that sector of the economy became imperative in order to enable it to contribute to the growth of the small and medium-scale enterprises.

Investigations by our correspondent on Wednesday revealed that about 350 MFBs had been audited since the commencement of the target examination for the sector about a month ago,

A joint team of the CBN and the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation had last month begun an audit of that sub-sector of the banking industry.

The examination was intended to determine the actual number and financial conditions of all licensed MFBs as well as identify those with signs of distress in order to decide on the appropriate distress resolution options to take.

It was also meant to identify the actual number of those that had closed shop without notifying the supervisory authorities, thereby trapping depositors' funds, as well as encourage savings among the active poor.

Coming on the heels of series of complaints as well as protests by customers of MFBs, the examination will help to restore the much needed confidence of depositors in that sector.

Depositors of microfinance banks had in recent times raised the alarm over a situation where their funds were diverted by the directors of the MFBs for selfish purposes.

While some of them had alleged that some of the directors had harboured serious corporate governance weaknesses and infractions; others had written petition to the regulatory authorities to carry out a detailed audit of the sector, with a view to verifying their claims.

The Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, CBN, Dr. Kingsley Moghalu, confirmed the unveiling of the new policy in a chat.

He, however, failed to give full details of the content of the policy but added that the result of the examination would form the basis for a new regulatory action for the sector.

According to him, 'I want to let you know that we have embarked on a comprehensive target examination of all MFBs in the country. As I speak to you, between 300 to 350 of the 900 MFBs have been reviewed, the results of these examinations will form the basis for a number of regulatory actions and policy changes that will be announced in due course.

'Concerning outsourcing regulation, we have undertaken a comprehensive understudy of the various jurisdictions and we have not seen any jurisdiction and in most of the jurisdictions, the regulation of MFBs is still being undertaken by the central bank.

'Although, we have not made a final decision, it seems increasingly unlikely that we will be outsourcing the regulation of microfinance banks.

'The challenge is for us to restructure the sector and make it more efficient and to enhance our regulatory capacity and I think that by the middle of the year, we will be coming out with a major policy announcement on the microfinance sector.'