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FG to restructure SME loans, says Osinbajo

The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has said the Federal Government is working with the Central Bank of Nigeria to help borrowers to restructure their loans as part of efforts to ease the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

Osinbajo said this in a statement on Sunday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, entitled ‘FG will use part of N2.3tn ESP stimulus as buyer of last resort – VP Osinbajo.’

The statement said he disclosed this at the virtual edition of the 2020 presidential policy dialogue of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

As part of measures put in place to support small businesses, he said, “Working with the central bank, we try to ensure that we are able to put in place a system whereby many businesses that have taken loans will be able to restructure those loans.

“This is an ongoing conversation and we intend to keep the banks reassured that allowing generous restructuring programmes will be supported by the central bank and that the central bank will not throw them under the bus.”

He said the priority of the Federal Government in response to the economic challenges posed by COVID-19 was essentially to ward off a deep recession and to save jobs.

“We are hoping to do by a mixture of stimulus measures to support local businesses; the essence being to retain jobs and to ensure that we create the best possible circumstances for the most vulnerable in the society,” he said.

Osinbajo said the Federal Government developed the Economic Sustainability Plan with a stimulus package of N2.3tn to give fillip to the economy across various sectors.

The size of the stimulus was about 1.5 per cent of national income or Gross Domestic Product, he said.

According to him, this is not as large as the government would have liked it to be but it was the best it could do, given existing fiscal and monetary constraints.

The vice-president said this was also based on the assumption that the price of crude would average around $30 to $40 per barrel throughout the year.

He said it anticipated an economic growth of about -0.59 per cent in 2020.

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