The Senate on Tuesday said Nigeria’s banking sector is being run by a cartel which frustrates the monetary and fiscal policies of the Federal Government. It said the group of bank owners has become strong that it manipulates the economy.

The upper chamber of the National Assembly also condemned the high interest rates imposed by Deposit Money Banks on small and medium scale enterprises. The legislature stated that Nigeria’s economy cannot survive when it is difficult to run businesses.

These were part of the submissions by senators at the plenary on Tuesday while speaking on a motion moved by Senator Rafiu Ibrahim (Kwara South) titled, ‘The Dire Need for a Stakeholders’ Roundtable to Address Increasing Interest Rates in Nigeria.’

The lawmakers unanimously resolved to mandate the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions to organise a roundtable with the Central Bank of Nigeria, Deposit Money Banks, Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation as well as other relevant stakeholders and industry experts.

The roundtable is to find “immediate, sustainable and lasting solutions that will help usher in a new interest rate regime that supports enterprise development in Nigeria.”

In his submission, the Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, alleged that the Central Bank of Nigeria was losing control of the banking sector.

He said, “The best approach to this is to be honest and sincere to ourselves; to look at the banking sector in Nigeria and see whether it can truly be called a banking sector that is sensitive to the development of this country.

“First, we must admit the fact that we have one of the most unpredictable economies in the world and the reason being that the CBN has lost its grip (on the sector). In one day it is the regulator and participant in the banking industry and in another day it even goes outside its mandate.

“What explains this is simple: our investors in the banking sector have constituted themselves into a cartel and, therefore, they possess the capacity to manipulate the fiscal and monetary policies, and ensure that at no time will the two come together for the purpose of stabilising the economy. When it stabilises, they become the losers.”

Also, Senator Abdullahi Yahaya pointed out that the major problem that led to the high interest rates was because the monetary and fiscal policies were not aligning.

He said in part, “What is happening today is that the fiscal policy authorities are working at cross purposes with the monetary policy authorities. I want this Senate and you, Mr. President, to use your offices to please draw the attention of the fiscal and monetary authorities to do the right thing.

“These policies we are using, we have used them for the past 20 years and they have failed. You cannot fight inflation and spur growth and development at the same time.”

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