- Are members of the organised private sector (OPS) part of those indebted to banks? Offcourse yes, which is why they are up in arms against the Central Bank of Nigeria’s moves to publish bank debtors’ names by August 1.
- According to CBN, making the debtors’ identities public would force them to pay, thus reducing the huge non-performing loans in banks estimated at N13 trillion. But some OPS members think otherwise.
- Noting the need for CBN to tackle the problem of mounting bad debts, they, however, argue that there are factors responsible for loan default, which must be taken into account in matters of this nature.
- Others think that the move is high handed and may portray the debtors, some of who may have been forced into the situation, due to no fault of theirs, in bad light.
- Members of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) were among those critical of CBN’s move. Its President, Remi Bello, articulated the positions of members when he pointed out that there is need for CBN to avoid sweeping generalisation and examine the context of defaults in its intention to penalise loan defaulting companies and their subsidiaries.
“The LCCI recognises two broad categories of debtors. There are defaults that have arisen as a result of genuine business failure (some of which are irreversible), which affected the capacity to repay; there are defaults that have arisen as a consequence of deliberate intent not to repay. The latter borders on character quality, which is what the ‘Know Your Customer (KYC)’ concept is meant to address,” he said.
- Will the stability of the financial system and opposition by some OPS members force down the hand of the apex bank from making good its threat of publishing the list of debtors on August 1, 2015? The coming week will tell.