By Ginika Okoye
Stakeholders in the banking sector have called on banks to encourage credit system and improve loans disbursement to customers for a more viable economy.
Some of them, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday as Nigeria marks its 60thIndependence on Oct. 1, expressed regret that some banking policies were not customer-friendly.
Mr Okechukwu Unegbu, the former President, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), said the banking sector had not impacted much on the public.
Unegbu said that credit system in banking, which worked perfectly in developed economies, had yet to function in the country.
“We do not have a credit system to give percentage of your salary in a credit card just like in the developed economies.
“Credit system makes the economy to move, thrive, goods and services are easily replicated.
“Banks in this country are not customer-friendly, they are happy seeing customers suffer.
“You must have empathy for customers even if you are not able to do what they are asking for; you should receive them immensely, have a human face and talk to them,’’ he said.
The former president also appealed to the government to create an enabling environment to enable fiscal policies to thrive.
Mr Chris Nwani, the Convener of the `New Nigeria is Possible’ Group said that although the banking system had improved technologically, it had not encouraged the issuance of loans to youths.
Nwani, also a former banker with one of the old generation banks, said that the economy would be more buoyant if youths were provided the resources to translate their talents into realities.
He lamented that the development had triggered the proliferation of criminal activities among the youths.
“The essence of banking is to improve the economy and the buoyancy of the economy of every nation depends on the ordinary people.
“Where the present Nigerian banking system has not been encouraging giving out loans to younger people who have talents to improve on what they have, it shows that we have not really moved forward.
“But the banks still have a lot to do.
“I wish the CBN could come up and assist the bank where the banks cannot help to ensure that the younger generation, people who have innovative ideas can be supported.
“The CBN is trying but whatever effort that is been dissipated on anything will actually be considered based on the impact. We are yet to see some of these impacts,’’ he said.
Prof. Uche Uwaleke, a Capital Market expert said that the monetary authorities, represented by the CBN, had fared relatively well in ensuring the stability of the financial system in Nigeria.
Uwaleke said that monetary policies over the years had failed to achieve inflation, interest and exchange rates targets.
The financial expert said the failure was due to the huge infrastructure deficit and the country’s inability to diversify its export base away from crude oil.
“We have witnessed a raft of banking sector reforms which saw the end of the era of state owned banks that were inefficiently managed as well as the era of fragmented banking institutions following the banking consolidation exercise.
“Today, 60 years after independence, the banking sector is stronger.
“Prudential guidelines are in place while the CBN Act and the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) Act have gone through a number of amendments aimed at strengthening the financial sector.
“Having said that, it is important to point out that monetary policies over the years have failed on the average to achieve inflation, interest and exchange rates targets due to factors located in the structural bottlenecks in the economy.
“The way forward is for the government to clear these bottlenecks to enable effective transmission of monetary policy,’’ he said.
Mrs Tracy Ozhoro, a Public Servant and a customer with one of the new generation banks, urged banks to reduce their charges on accounts.
Ozhoro described the incessant charges as extortion, saying it was discouraging and uncalled for.
“Bank charges are too many, they far outweigh the interests.
“Sometimes, if you have just N1000 in your account because of the charges, you will not be able to collect the money.
“There are a lot of issues around financial technology that keeps customers stranded at times,’’ she said.
She appealed to banks to harmonise their system and make it friendlier for customers as a lot of people were being discouraged from operating bank accounts. (NAN)