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CBN Governor appears before Senate committee, apologises

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele has appeared before the Senate Committee on Finance.

Mr Emefiele was invited by the Senator Olamilekan Adeola led Committee, on Monday, to offer explanations on the rationale behind the exchange rates the apex bank used for three key projects under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund(PIDF) being funded to the tune of billions of naira by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority(NSIA) across the country.

Senator Adeola has raised an eyebrow on the use of N325 to a dollar exchange rate instead of the official rate of N305 in a government to government transaction for certain infrastructure projects.

Emefiele who could not meet up with the invitation however sent his deputy, Mr Sonubi Folashodun to represent him.

The lawmakers asked the latter to take his exit from the Committee session with a directive that Mr Emefiele should make himself available on Wednesday.

However, when Mr Emefiele appeared before the panel, he asked to speak behind close door.

After making necessary introductions, the committee chairman asked Mr Emefiele to explain how stamp duty has been performing.

Emefiele at first apologised to the lawmakers for his absence on Monday and said he was on an official assignment with the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.

The CBN Governor highlighted the role of the apex bank as financial adviser to the government and regulator of monetary policy.

He said: ” First, I apologise for my absence at the committee’s sitting yesterday (Monday), I was unfortunately held down in another assignment where I was with the Vice president of the country.

“I want to put on record that the Central Bank of Nigeria recognises the special roles and the responsibilities of not only the Senate, the National Assembly but also the Senate Committee on Finance in the overall development of Nigeria regarding the banking industry.

“Having apologised, I will want to say that CBN has its core mandates that are enshrined in the 2007 Central Bank of Nigeria Act as amended, which includes maintaining price and monetary stability depending on the currency of the country.

“We also act as financial adviser to the Federal Government of Nigeria. In the area of monetary policy, I am trying as much as possible to ensure that monetary policies decisions are those that would impact positively in the lives of the people.

” It should not just be about interest rates or exchange rates but how does decisions on exchange rates and interest rates impact positively on the lives of our people.

“You would have observed through our activities and pronouncements that we are doing the little we can to the development of the country.”

Emefiele pleaded with the Senate Committee for a closed-door session, as he noted that some of the issues to be discussed with the Committee were subject of litigations.

“Distinguished Chairman sir, at this junction, due to the fact that the stamp duty matter and other related matters are currently at the High Court, I would like to crave your kind indulgence to permit us to speak off-camera.”

Earlier in his submission, Senator Adeola expressed his disaffection over the absence of the CBN Governor at previous sessions of the Senate Committee on Finance despite several invitations.

“Long before now, we had expected that we would have you around especially on the issue of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper which the Federal Government Budget is predicated upon.

“We were told that you were very busy and that your schedule were very tight. The issue we are looking forward to hearing from you today is the one that borders on stamp duty which we want you to tell us how the stamp duty under your watch has been performing.

“We also want to know what should be our expectations in this year’s budget and how revenue from stamp duty could work for us in the 2020 Appropriation Act.

“We also want you to brief on the profile of Nigeria as a country in terms of monetary policies, as it affects the economy of the country.

“The man in charge of the Sovereign Wealth Investment Authority is not here but we will allow the CBN Governor to speak on the issue aspect that concerns the CBN.”

 
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