Business Hilights
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Confusion over Polaris Bank’s bailout repayment as CBN grants 1 year moratorium

Fresh confusion may have emerged as to when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) appointed management team of the rescued Polaris Bank will pay back the total of N789bn bailout fund with which the apex bank used in resuscitating the lender in 2018.

Recall that Polaris Bank, which was formally Skye Bank was first rescued by the apex bank in 2016 by the same CBN by sacking the entire management, appointing managment team and pumping in first N100bn.

However, in early 2018 when it observed that even the management board it appointed failed to turn around the bank to profitability, it rushed again to the bank; this time with the highest bailout fund ever in the history of Nigeria; a total of N689bn and reatining the same managment that could not give justice to the initial N100bn.

Now, when the initial N100bn is added, the grand total of bailout on Polaris Bank rose to about N789bn taxpayers’ money.

The apex bank had said while changing just the name and logo of the bank in 2018 that the bank will be made to pay back the bailout fund in two years.

However, with the latest stand of the CBN on one year moratorium on all principal repayments, effective March 1, 2020, stakeholders have started speculating what could be the fate or interpretation for the troubled bank this year.

Explaining further, CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele said: “All CBN intervention facilities are hereby granted a further moratorium of one year on all principal repayments, effective March 1, 2020. This means that any intervention loan currently under moratorium are hereby granted additional period of one year. Accordingly, participating financial institutions are hereby directed to provide new amortization schedules for all beneficiaries.”

Some industry experts who weighed the meaning of the above to the situation at Polaris Bank are still finding it hard to say exactly what becomes the true faith of the whooping taxpayers bailout fund come end of the this year.

Business Hilights recalls that while giving some precautionary measures to save the economy over falling oil prices and COVID 19 pandemic, the apex bank also cut interest rates on all applicable CBN intervention facilities from 9 to 5 percent per annum for one year effective March 1, 2020.

CBN also granted a further moratorium of one year on all principal repayments and created a N50bn facility through the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank for households and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have been particularly hard hit by Covid-19, including but not limited to hoteliers, airline service providers, health care merchants, among others.