The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is to begin monthly reviews of bank loan-to-deposit ratios as part of a bid to increase lending and stimulate growth in Africa’s biggest economy, its governor said on Tuesday.
Godwin Emefiele announced the move at a news conference in the capital, Abuja, after telling reporters rate setters voted unanimously to hold the main interest rate at 13.5% because key macroeconomic indicators were “trending in the right direction”.
Most analysts polled by Reuters had predicted no change, though they said the central bank would probably ease in September.
Nigeria, which is Africa’s top oil producer, emerged from its first recession in 25 years in 2017. Higher oil prices and recent debt sales have helped it accrue billions of dollars in foreign reserves but growth remains fragile with gross domestic product growing just over 2% in the first quarter of 2019.
Emefiele, who earlier this year became the first Nigerian central bank governor to be given a second term since a return to democracy in 1999, has worked to force banks to boost lending.
On Tuesday he outlined plans for regular reviews aimed at ensuring more money is lent to Nigeria’s private sector.
“After 30 September we are going to begin a month-by-month monitoring and then prescription of loan deposit ratio for the banks,” Emefiele told journalists.
In the last few weeks, the central bank has capped interest-bearing deposits at the central bank. It has also told banks they must lend more or face higher cash reserve requirements and barred banks from buying bills for their own accounts at an open market auction.