With coronavirus affecting prices of goods, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele says the apex bank is contemplating reducing interest rate as other countries take same measures to protect their citizens against the impact of coronavirus on the economy.
The interest rate cut is expected to also revive the economy, which has been heavily affected since the coronavirus outbreak. For Nigeria, the virus has forced the Federal Government to consider reviewing its 2020’s N10.59 trillion budget, which already came with a deficit of over N2 trillion, to reflect the changes in the oil market and the impact of coronavirus on trade.
Emefiele said the CBN’s decision to cut rates is a global pattern among Central Banks across the world. He said this is part of the resilient measures being put in place by fiscal authorities to aid the growth of a declining economy.
Speaking on the measures being taken, Emefiele said, “The impact of the coronavirus across over 100 countries, has affected global supply chains, as well as demand for goods and services. Commodity prices have also been affected, as crude oil prices have plummeted by over 45 per cent since January 2020.
“The CBN, fortunately, had already embarked on similar measures which have resulted in significant reduction in lending rates, as part of our efforts to boost growth. Working with the fiscal authorities, we will not hesitate to deploy additional measures to strengthen our buffers and insulate the economy from the global headwinds.”
He said this while revealing some measures the CBN took last year to support the economy which included the CBN’s minimum loan to deposit ratio, rising from 60% to 65%.
Emefiele also disclosed that CBN, “also imposed restriction on access to Open Market Operation (OMO) auctions to encourage banks to lend to the real sector. Indeed, the banking sector has responded positively with the rise in aggregate industry credit from N15.3 trillion May 2019 to over N17.4 trillion in January 2020.
“I am aware that these loans have been granted to borrowers across different sectors at considerably lower rates. Although a lot more still needs to be done, we intend to sustain these policy measures, as it will help support improved economic growth and create more employment opportunities.”
Global growth to decline: Although the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected earlier this year that from 2.9% in 2019, the global growth would rise to 3.3% in 2020, with the spread of coronavirus at a time oil market is experiencing a record drop in oil price following the price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, causing the Brent crude oil price to crash to $30 but rising to the current $34.43, the growth is expected to decline.
Both the oil price drop and coronavirus are weighing heavily on the economy as Nigeria’s budget is benchmarked on the Brent crude oil price being $57 per barrel. Commenting on the impact, Emefiele stated that, “with the onset of the virus, global growth is expected to decline in 2020, but the extent of the decline would depend on how the epidemic is contained over the next few months.”