Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele has threatened to recover intervention loans extended to State Governors following remarks made by Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki that the government had printed N60 billion to fund government expenditure.
In response to the question asked by Journalists, Emefiele remarked:
“In 2015, 2016 the kind of situation we find ourselves now, which is even worse than 2015 2016, we did provide budget support facility for all the states of this country, that loan remains unpaid till now and we are going to insist on the states paying back those monies going forward since they are accusing us of giving them loans.”
The comments appear to be a threat to State Government that the Central Bank will call back loans issued to state governments which could perhaps mean deducting the loans from the monthly Federal Allocations shared between States and Federal Government.
States and Federal Government have faced severe economic challenges over the last year as Covid-19 Pandemic and the fall in oil prices hurt government revenues. To continue running the government, the central bank lent trillions of naira to the Federal and State Government through several intervention funds often backed by the Ways and Means provisions which allow the apex bank to lend money to the government.
Godwin Obaseki told his state transition committee members
”When we got FAAC for March, the federal government printed an additional N50-N60 billion to top-up for us to share. This April, we will go to Abuja and share. By the end of this year, our total borrowing is going to be between N15 and N16 trillion. Imagine a family that is just borrowing without any means to pay back and nobody is looking at that, everybody is looking at 2023, everybody is blaming Mr. President as if he is a magician.”
The Finance Minister chastised the governor for making such a comment explaining that
“The issue that was raised by the Edo State Governor for me is very, very sad Because it is not a fact….When we got FAAC for March, the federal government printed an additional N50-N60 billion to top-up for us to share. What we distribute at FAAC is revenue that is generated and in fact distribution revenue is public information. We publish revenue generated by FIRS, the customs, and the NNPC and we distribute at FAAC. So, it is not true to say we printed money to distribute at FAAC, it is not true,” Zainab Ahmed
Emefiele also attempted to explain the concept of printing money and at some point confused it with lending money. “If you understand the concept of printing of money. Printing of money is about lending money, that is our job. To print is about lending money”
“Money Printing” in economic terms is also referred to as quantitative easing and occurs in a period of a recession or economic crunch. Central Banks pump money into the economy by either buying bonds or crediting the accounts of banks or the government in the hope that this will spur economic growth. The money is often repaid via tax receipts when the economy recovers. The United States recently doled out over 1 trillion to Americans to help them recover from Covid-19.