The Bankers Committee has pledged to provide grant funding facilities in Naira and foreign exchange to pharmaceutical companies to enable them to procure raw materials and equipment to boost local drug production in the country. This is contained in a communique issued by the committee and made available to Newsmen in Abuja on Saturday.
Vanguard reports that Nigeria’s suspected cases of recorded Coronavirus have risen to 22 as at Saturday. The communique read by the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, listed the beneficiary companies to include, but not limited to Emzor, Fidson, GSK, May and Baker, Unique Pharma, Swiss Pharma, Neimeth, Sagar, Orange Drugs and Dana Pharma. Emefiele noted that the Bankers’ Committee also gave its full support to the policy measures amounting to about N3.5 trillion earlier announced by the CBN in response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 on Nigeria. According to him, the Committee took the decision to support the pharmaceutical companies given the fact that the present pandemic was of grave public health concern, coupled with the fact that many drug-manufacturing countries planned or had already banned the export of drugs and medical supplies from their respective countries, thereby leaving Nigeria no choice but to produce the drugs locally.
He further explained that the apex bank and the Bankers’ Committee had resolved at this time to collaborate with one coherent strategy to provide confidence to the customers, counter parties, the public and ultimately putting the country first. He added that engagements would be held with correspondent banks, trade creditors, trading partners regarding existing letters of credit and trade commitments. The CBN governor assured that the industry was committed to resolving all existing commitments in a comprehensive and orderly manner. The governor said the industry had also resolved that profit would not be the primary motive at this time. “Rather, preserving confidence, financial stability and support for the economy will be the overriding objectives,” he added. He stated that considering the disruptions to global supply chains, the CBN governor and the Bankers’ Committee advised Nigerians and companies to prioritise their import needs and focus more on sourcing raw materials and input locally. CBN, in response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 on Nigeria, had announced policy measures such as the additional moratorium of one year on the bank’s intervention facilities, interest rate reduction on intervention facilities from nine per cent to five per cent. Others are the activation of the N1.5 trillion InfraCo Project for building critical infrastructure; the strengthening of the lending to deposit ratio policy, additional N100 billion intervention in healthcare loans to pharmaceutical companies; and the N1 trillion in loans to boost local manufacturing and production across critical sectors. Also to improve foreign exchange supply to the CBN, the Bank directed all international and domestic oil companies and related companies such as oil servicing companies to sell foreign exchange to the apex bank and no longer the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).