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Senator doubtful over NMFB’s ability to recover N500 billion COVID-19 loan

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, has expressed reservations over the chances of NIRSAL Micro-Finance Bank (NMFB) to recover about N500 billion loan disbursed to households and Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) during the COVID-19 pandemic, because of the conditions under which the facility was dispensed.

He added that the loan and the time it was disbursed looked like grants as beneficiaries used it as a life raft to survive the pandemic.

He made his position known when the Managing Director of NMFB, Abubakar Abdullahi Kure visited the National Assembly earlier in the week to brief members of the parliament on the workings of the bank and its loan exposure status.

Akinyelure also canvassed high funding for NMFB to enable it to lend more to MSMEs operating in Nigeria. Lauding the management of the bank for doing a good job, Akinyelure, who represents Ondo Central senatorial district, however, said the criteria under which the loans were granted to Nigerians makes recovery very difficult.

He said: “To me, NISRAL gave out these monies as grants to Nigerians because I don’t see how you are going to collect over N500 billion back from the criteria required for the acquisition of these loans. With these, if there is any recommendation or way forward that the management feels they can enlighten us on, they should put it out. We will go back to the Senate with it.

“Since recovering this money will be difficult for NIRSAL because of the time it was disbursed, let’s request that CBN gives them fresh funds so they can be able to give it out to persons that they can be able to recover it from.

“About N180 billion outside is gone and we can’t wait until it is recovered before another fund can be disbursed.

“In countries like the US, they gave their citizens free money over four times. For this agency to meet its loaded objectives, fresh funds should be released to them,” According to him, NMFB’s objective was a good one, adding that it has advantages over other microfinance houses because of its strategic national spread and capacity to loan funds to MSMEs without stringent conditions.

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