Abuja - President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday urged bankers in the country to support Federal Government’s drive to boost the real sector of the economy.
The president made the call at the opening of the 6th Annual Conference of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, in Abuja.
``It is time for the banking industry to raise our hopes through credit grants to the productive sectors of the economy
``The banking sector has a lot to do as regards interest rates, so as to encourage more Nigerians to borrow,’’ he said.
Represented by Dr Yerima Ngama, Minister of State for Finance, Jonathan said the role of the banks in ensuring economic growth cannot be over emphasised.
On the proposed introduction of the N5,000 notes, he said that government supported the initiative based on the positive impact it would have on the economy.
He said the cost of servicing loans and printing of currency had been on the high side, adding that the introduction of the higher denomination would go a long way to reducing such cost.
In his remarks, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) maintained that the currency restructuring was in the best interest of the economy.
He emphasised that it would reduce the cost of managing and printing of cash.
``We are looking at the hypothesis of the results we got from most Nigerians that the older coins of 10 and 50 Kobo had lower worth and people could not buy much commodities with them.
``Therefore, we are looking at a situation where the coins would have a higher worth, instead of printing papers,’’ he said.
He added that at present, the cost of carrying and maintaining lower denominations of currencies was exorbitant due to cost of insurance, transportation, servicing of bullion vans, among others.
``So, the higher denomination will help to save a lot of expenses. If the central bank is able to reduce these costs, there will be surplus and extras,’’ he said.
He said that CBN, through the minister of finance had in 2011 remitted N64 billion to the national treasury.
``So we expect more of this if the higher denomination is out and used. The higher denomination actually is for the main purpose of large carriers of cash,’’ he noted.
Commenting on former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s comment that the N5,000 note would trigger inflation,Lamido said he was entitled to his opinion.
``Obasanjo is one of, if not the only president in Nigeria who introduced the highest number of currencies during his regime.’’
On the women whose pictures would be on the new note, Sanusi said they fought for democracy and social justice in Nigeria during their time.
``They were not just ordinary women, but were also politicians and women who fought for the cause of democracy.’’
Mr Segun Aina, President of the institute, said the aim of the conference was to bring experts in the industry together to help bring out policies that would help grow the economy.
He said the economy had in the last couple of years had a positive outlook, adding: ``We shall not disappoint other African countries that are looking up to us.’’