The Senate, after a closed-door session with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, on Tuesday, said despite the economic hardship being experienced by Nigerians, the country’s economy remained strong.
Emefiele had appeared before the Senate to brief the lawmakers on the state of the country’s economy and the implementation of the 2016 budget.
The CBN governor was grilled by senators for about two hours.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said after the session that Emefiele came to brief the legislature on the new foreign exchange management policy, the need to grow and diversify the economy as well as “the issues with some of the commercial banks.”
“Thereafter, he answered questions from the distinguished senators on some topical and national economic matters. This is the true reflection of what transpired at the closed-door session,” Saraki stated.
The Senate said in a statement later that the briefing by Emefiele was in line with Section 8 of the CBN Act, 2007, “which requires that the governor of the central bank provides to the National Assembly periodic updates on the activities of the bank as well as the performance of the economy.”
The statement read in part, “In view of the above, the governor of the CBN presented a comprehensive and lucid account of the performance of the Nigerian economy in the last one year.
“His presentation began with current global economic conditions, which have been characterised by external shocks, including the sharp decline in commodity prices, the geopolitical tensions along important trading routes, and tightening of the monetary policy in the United States of America.”
Emefiele was said to have drawn linkages between these occurrences and the Nigerian economy, especially with respect to the over 70 per cent decline in oil prices from around $116 per barrel in June 2014 to about $30 per barrel earlier this year.
The statement added, “The governor’s presentation also gave us an insight into the bank’s decisions in the foreign exchange market and the rationale underlying the recent re-introduction of a flexible exchange rate mechanism in Nigeria.
“He also delved into the health of the financial system and discussed the bank’s detailed examination of financial institutions, as well as its zero tolerance for insider dealings by boards and management of Deposit Money Banks.
“In sum, the governor declared that the strategic health of Nigeria’s financial system is still strong at this time.”
After Emefiele’s presentation, many senators raised issues concerning the banking system, the spillage in economic growth for the first quarter of 2016, the gradual rise in inflation, the fall in foreign exchange reserves, and policy coordination between the fiscal and monetary authorities, the statement added.
The Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, while briefing journalists after the meeting, announced that the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, would appear before the Senate on Wednesday (today) to brief the lawmakers on the economy.