Interbank rate climb is normal


By Oluwaseyi Bangudu September 21, 2010


Nigerian interbank lending rates rose to 4.0 per cent on average last week, from 1.66 per cent the previous week, after large cash withdrawals drained liquidity from the system.The secured Open Buy Back climbed to 3.5 per cent from 1.50 per cent, 75 basis points above the Standing Deposit Facility (SDF) rate and 4.5 percentage points below the 6 per cent central bank benchmark rate, Overnight placement rates rose to 4.0 per cent from 1.75 per cent, while call money closed at 4.5 per cent compared to 1.75 per cent. According to a Reuters report last week, the cost of funds on the interbank will spike further early next week as market liquidity continues to thin out.


Bank officials however say the rates surge should not necessarily lead to any major disruptions in business or bank lending as it is not an unusual occurrence in the money market.”Many factors are responsible for rates surging. Usually, towards the end of the month, interbank rates are high because a lot of payments need to be made at the end of the months and banks need to be liquid. Companies need to pay staff, interests on loans need to be paid, and so many factors determine it. The relationship between banks also determine the rates they would operate with,” a source at Oceanic bank said.


Withdrawals by large organisations and the demand for funds for foreign exchange purchases at bi-weekly official auctions also help to drain liquidity in the market, pushing up the cost of borrowing among banks.


Lending rate not encouraging

Experts have called on banks to address their strategy regarding the need to create new assets, as lending rates are still high.


Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Central Bank Governor says weak bank lending is a “major worry”. And that although he wants single-digit inflation by the end of the year, the central bank will do nothing to jeopardise economic growth. “Bank lending has not been growing as fast as we would like it to grow. So as far as upside risk to inflation, it is not very high,” Mr Sanusi said in the Reuters report.Experts however say the election induced increase in government spending and the establishment of an asset management company to soak up bad bank loans should help put more money into the system.


Akinbamidele Akintola, a research analyst at Renaissance Capital, an investment banking firm said the Central Bank’s reforms would yield positive results on the entire sector. “I am of the opinion that we need to key our eyes on the ball and that would be the reforms by the Central Bank. It is ongoing and it is definitely going to yield some positive results for the entire sector. The AMCON Bill has been signed into law and the Presidency is committed to getting a competent team of people to man the corporation and all of this is in the pipeline. By and large, we expect a gradual turnaround in the banks as the Central Bank continues to make concerted efforts to stimulate the recovery of the financial system by acquiring non-performing loans from the banks and assisting them in improving their capital and liquidity,” he said.


Bank officials say the regular cash inflows from the monthly budgetary disbursals to government agencies however usually has major impact on liquidity in the economy and can ease the rising interbank rates.






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