Arewa Consultative Forum has commended President Muhammadu Buhari on the 2022 budget presentation, but urged government to reduce the interest rates to enable growth of small and medium businesses, in a bid to reduce kidnapping and other crimes.
ACF National Chairman, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who made the call on Saturday, noted that high interest rate will not only stifle access to credit, businesses and the economy, but it would also have adverse effects on the younger generation and force them to engage in crime to make money.
According to Ogbeh, “I congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari for his presentation of the budget estimates of the 2022 fiscal year. The Forum appreciates the desire and commitment of his administration to take steps to expand and concretize the infrastructure base without which economic growth will be a mirage.
“We also want to commend government on the new onslaught on bandit and criminals nationwide. We are however worried that no mention was made of the problem of interest rate. For nearly three decades, we have endured the most outrageous interest rates that any developing country can endure. .
“How can we continue to pay lip service to the vital issue of the growth of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMSEs), the prosperity of the younger generation, if we make it impossible for them to access credit..
“We appreciate the efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), but we regret to say those efforts will not solve the problem when commercial banks are still charging 27-30% (as interest rates). What kind of business will anybody do with such interest rates?.
“We wish to caution that that unless and until we hurriedly establish a mechanism to deal with the current national tragedy where our children have resolved that the fastest way to their personal economic recovery is kidnapping, the Nigerian economy cannot experience real growth if access to reasonable credit remains forever blocked.”