ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigerian banks plan to restructure over a third of loans after running into repayment problems due to the coronavirus pandemic, a member of the central bank monetary policy committee said.
A total of 17 banks have submitted requests to restructure over 32,000 loans for businesses and individuals, representing 33% of loans, Aisha Ahmad said in a statement published on the central bank’s website late on Wednesday.
She said the majority of the loans to be restructured were within the manufacturing and general commerce sectors.
“Results from ongoing impact assessments of COVID-19 effects on impairment by banks indicate a modest impact given regulatory policy measures already implemented,” Ahmad said.
Mid tier lender FCMB said in May that it was restructuring half of its loans, mainly involving the oil and retail sectors
The central bank in March said it would allow lenders to give customers more time to repay loans and create a fund to combat the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which triggered an oil price crash and weakened the currency.
Before the pandemic, the central bank forced banks to lend to stimulate an economy mired in low growth. But lenders wary of an increasing loan pile held back and were penalised.
Total loans grew 3 trillion naira ($8.31 billion) to 18.6 trillion naira over the last year ending in April, Ahmad said.
The oil price crash also hurt energy companies, long the most favoured sector for bank loans. In April, credit to the oil sector accounted for 26% of all corporate loans, another MPC member, Adamu Lametek, said in the statement.
($1 = 361.00 naira)
Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Mark Heinrich