By Dipo Olowookere
Heritage Bank has resumed the sale of foreign exchange (forex) to small medium enterprises (SMEs) and parents wishing to pay school fees for their wards.
This followed the resumption of the provision of over $100 million per week to all commercial banks by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The sale of FX to SMEs is to enable busines owners to make essential imports needed to revamp economic activities across the country, which was locked down for over a month.
Also, as part of proactive measures to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 and revamp the nation’s dwindling economy, Heritage Bank is set to disburse the N100 billion set aside by the CBN.
This is in line with the apex bank’s policy to introduce another intervention scheme directed to the health sector, which is known as the N100 Billion Credit Support for the Healthcare sector.
Specifically, the scheme is to provide credit to indigenous pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare value chain players intending to build or expand capacity.
Meanwhile, Heritage Bank serves as a conduit which will assess and channel the profiles of interested applicants to the CBN while using its platforms to create awareness for the scheme.
The CBN has also made complete arrangements to resume foreign exchange sales to the BDC segment of the market for business travels, personal travels, and other designated retail uses, as soon as international flights resume.
To access the N100 billion loans provided by the CBN for firms in the healthcare sector, a corporate entity must submit its application to a participating financial institution (PFI) which could be either a Deposit Money Bank or a Development Finance Institution of its choice with a bankable business plan.
It stated in its latest guidelines that the PFI must appraise and conduct due diligence on the application; and upon approval by the PFI’s credit committee, the application would be submitted to the apex bank with relevant documents attached.
The CBN would process and disburse funds to the PFI for onward release to the project, it added.
The CBN stated that the PFI must receive and review applications submitted by its customers; undertake due diligence based on normal business considerations, and bear the credit risk.
They must also issue offer letters and forward qualified applications to the CBN; disburse the released funds to successful applicants; monitor the project and recover the loans from the beneficiaries, and maintain adequate records of all beneficiaries and facilities.
It requires the PFIs to register all movable assets with the National Collateral Registry; forward periodic returns in the prescribed format on the scheme to the CBN; comply with the guidelines, and carry out any other duties as the CBN may prescribe from time to time.
According to the CBN, eligible participants under the scheme comprise healthcare product manufacturers – pharmaceutical drugs and medical equipment; and healthcare service providers/medical facilities – hospitals/clinics, diagnostic centres/laboratories, fitness and wellness centres, rehabilitation centres, dialysis centres and blood banks, among others.
Others include pharmaceutical/medical products distribution and logistics services; and other human healthcare service providers as may be determined by the CBN from time to time.
Eligible activities under the scheme would include manufacturing of pharmaceutical drugs and medical equipment; establishment/expansion/upgrade of basic and specialised healthcare facilities; and medical/pharmaceutical supplies.
Others are medical/pharmaceutical research and development; distribution of medical/pharmaceutical drugs and supplies; Manufacturing of medical/pharmaceutical drugs distribution technology; and any other healthcare value chain activity as may be prescribed by the CBN.
The CBN said the term loan had a maximum of N2 billion per obligor; and the interest rate under the intervention would not be more than five percent per annum up until February 28, 2021; and that interest on the facility would revert to nine percent as from March 2021.
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