The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) vowed on Saturday that there will be no hiding place for bad debtors in the country.
Governor of the bank, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said while the CBN was ready and willing to support local and foreign investors it would only lend to credible people.
Speaking during an assessment tour of the Dangote Refinery, Fertilizer Plant and Petrochemical Company in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, Emefiele said local and foreign entrepreneurs will be encouraged to explore investment opportunities in the country and also enjoy government protection.
According to Emefiele, entrepreneurs should embrace the opportunity presented by low interest rate regime to thrive.
“We want to support any foreigner or Nigerian that finds Nigeria as a good investment destination. We support the person through the banking sector and foreign exchange allocations. Government stands ready to give them the needed protection and support they want. We have also insisted that banks must be catalyst for development. But the banks also need credible people to lend to. If we look at the number of debtors in the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria – AMCON list, most of them are Nigerians. Banks need credible people to come out and be counted in this journey,” he said.
He said that Dangote Refinery would begin operation in the first quarter of 2021, and help the country earn more foreign exchange.
He said: “Tell those shouting that the refinery project is a fluke that latest, first quarter of next year, we will crank it and petrol will be coming out from it.”
Emefiele said President, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote should be commended for his determination and large heart to support the economy through massive investments.
He said he was at the site in 2016, 2019 and yesterday to see the level of progress of the three projects- Fertilizer, petrochemical and refinery.
He said the projects were at $9 billion when they were started five years ago, and is currently around $15 billion after currency adjustments and some other things added, that were not anticipated at inception.
Emefiele said President Muhammadu Buhari had called for diversification of the economy to enable the country earn more revenue.
He said the fertilizer plant will start production in May 2020, and that will be the end of fertilizer importation into the country. He said the fertilizer plant will produce three million tons per annum.
Also, 25 per cent of it will be used locally, while the other 75 per cent will be exported.
The second project is the refinery, which will be refining 650,000 barrels per day and will not only satisfy local consumption, but also position Nigeria as major exporter of petroleum products.
“The refinery will serve the whole of Africa. This project is strategically positioned that it will only make the final cost of petrol within and outside Nigeria lower. Everything in Nigeria that has plastic will be produced from the plat and will satisfy not only domestic production but also for export,” Emefiele said.
He said that Dangote has 50 per cent equity in the projects, adding that banks will always support investors with good equity for their business.
“Also, the CBN will not allow people to borrow money and refuse to pay again. That era has gone. If you take money, you will pay back the loan. If you borrow money and refuse to pay, we will take your money wherever you are keeping it. If you are ridding private jet, we will seize the private jet so that you will begin to ride on bicycle. Then, we will know that you are really a liquidated person,” he said.
Also speaking, Dangote said the refinery will be one of the highest foreign exchange generating companies in Africa.
He thanked Buhari the CBN Governor for their support.
He said: “We should not wait for foreign investors to invest in the economy. We have to do it ourselves especially now that interest rates are dropping and banks are lending more to the economy. I encourage more entrepreneurs to gear up and borrow more to develop the economy.”
He said that with the Dangote Fertilizer plan which will begin commercial production in May 2020, Nigeria will be the biggest urea exporting country in Africa. “We will not only be exporting, we will be expanding big time with estimated four to five million tons of urea.”
“We expect to earn $2.5 billion annually from the projects and that will reduce foreign exchange pressure on the economy and that will be about 10 per cent of what Nigeria earns annually from diaspora remittances.”
According to him, these projects will make Nigeria the biggest exporter of petrochemical products in Africa.
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