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Disquiet as Senate concludes move to scrap BoI for National Dev. Bank

Anxieties seem to be at the highest as the Senate Monday moved closer to concluding plans to scrap Bank of Industry (BoI) and establish the National Development Bank (NDB) in its place.

But the leadership of the bank kicked against the lawmakers move, saying BoI has been a saving grace for several businesses and industrialists.

Acting Managing Director of BoI, Mr. Waheed Olagunju, made this known at a public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions on the establishment of the NDB.

Olagunju, in his presentation, insisted that the BoI was already fulfilling the mandate of the proposed development bank.

The BoI boss stated that what was needed was more funding of the bank by the Federal Government so as to increase its support to the real sector rather than duplicate functions with the establishment of another bank with a similar purpose.

He said “We are of the opinion that the BoI, as presently constituted, is fulfilling the mandate envisaged in the proposed legislation by supporting genuine entrepreneurs. Therefore, it should be left to continue its operations as it is. The merger envisaged in the proposed bill has already taken place.

“The BoI should be provided with more capital to be able to further support the real sector instead of duplicating functions by creating new development finance institutions, bearing in mind the failure of similar DFIs in the past, such as the NBCI, NERFUND, People’s Bank, Community Banks, etc.”

 “We advise that the National Assembly should support industrialisation by enacting legislation that will help create an enabling environment for business to thrive, such as an amendment to the Land Use Act, tax incentives for SMEs and establishment of industrial parks.

“This will substantially address the demand challenges of finance for SMEs in Nigeria, as vagaries of the business environment have been making the sector unattractive to private and public lenders.

But Olagunju seemed to have lost the bid to save the life pof BoI as even the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; and the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, all backed the Senate on the move.

Adeosun, who was represented by a director in Ministry of Finance, Christopher Gabriel, said the ministry strongly supported the bill, adding that the proposal was in tandem with the economic reconstruction efforts of the Federal Government.

It would be recalled that a bill seeking to establish the NDB had passed second reading in the Senate since October 12 and had been committed to the Senate Committee on banking, Insurance and other Financial Bodies for further works.

Coming as a ‘A Bill for an Act to establish the National Development Bank, 2015’, and sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Gobir, it seeks to repeal the BoI, the Bank for Commerce and Industry Act and the National Economic Reconstruction Fund Act.

The bill further seeks to bring the total assets of the organisations under one body to be called the National Development Bank.