The acting Director, Corporate Communication of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Osita Nwanisobi disclosed on Thursday at the bank’s special day at the ongoing 42nd Kaduna International Trade Fair that CBN has disbursed N253 billion to 548,345 beneficiaries as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nwanisobi who was represented by the Branch Controller, Kaduna, Ahmed Mohammed Wali noted that the beneficiaries comprised 470,969 households and 77,376 Small and Medium Enterprises.

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He added that the bank reduced its interest rate on CBN intervention loans from nine to five per cent to encourage more lending and initially created a N150 billion Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) for affected households and SME’s through the NIRSAL microfinance Bank.

In his explanation, he said that “about 29,026 beneficiaries have accessed N111.7 billion under the Agri-business/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS). Under the National Youth Investment Fund, 7,057 beneficiaries comprising 4,411 individuals and 2,646 SMEs have so far accessed the scheme. The Creativity Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI) has also provided loan facilities for 341 beneficiaries across movie production, movie distribution, music and software development.”

Nwanisobi further disclosed that about 3.1 million farmers have benefited from the anchor borrowers programme as of April 2020, saying: “The Anchor Borrowers Programme was able to provide intervention facilities to 3,107,949 small holder farmers who cultivated 3.8 million hectares of land.

“We, therefore, enjoin Nigerians, particularly women and youths, to cue into our bouquet of intervention programmes and take advantage of schemes such as the ABP; Targeted Credit Facility (TCF); Commodity Development Initiative (CDI); Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI); Micro Small and Medium Enterprises Development Facility (MSMEDF); and the Agric-business/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS).”

According to the director, the apex bank was not only working with the fiscal authority to improve the investment climate towards attracting Foreign Direct Investment but will also continue to sustain its interventions in the critical sectors of the economy, particularly in Agriculture, Manufacturing, MSMEs, Infrastructure, Creative Industry, Health etc; to facilitate strong economic growth and development of the country.