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COVID-19: CBN’s intervention policies saved banking sector

February 27, 2021, marked one year the first Coronavirus (COVID-19) case was dictated in Nigeria. As at today, Africa’s largest economy recorded 1.5 million samples tested, 154,476 confirmed cases, 20,863 active cases; 131,722 discharged cases and 1,905 deaths, according to Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The pandemic disrupted every sector of the Nigerian economy of which the banking industry is no exception. The lockdown declared by the Federal Government at the end of March 2020 to contend the impact of the pandemic disrupted businesses, lives and livelihood.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show that financial institutions contracted by -2.48% in the fourth quarter (Q4) 2020 from 6.80% in the third quarter (Q3) 2020 and 22.33% in Q4 2019.

Analysts in the financial services sector were of the opinion that though the pandemic affected the banking sector last year, the impact was not grave as the policies and interventions of the CBN saved the industry.

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In response to the impact of COVID-19 on key economic variables such as inflation, exchange rate, interest rate and external reserves, the fiscal and monetary authorities took unprecedented measures to prevent the economy from going into a tailspin.

“Our first objective was to restore stability to the economy by providing assistance to individuals, SMEs and businesses that had been severely affected by the pandemic, as well as by the lockdown measures,” Godwin Emefiele, governor of the CBN said.

Some of the measures taken by the monetary and fiscal authorities include:

Policymakers across the globe have been faced with a dual challenge of trying to address a public health crisis, and a major economic challenge.

The spread of the virus along with the corresponding containment measures led to a significant slowdown in global growth in the first half of 2020.

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