CBN Ignores DMO, Bars Retail Investors from Treasury Bills
By Dipo Olowookere
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reportedly directed banks not to honour bids from retail investors in the country for treasury bills from Friday, November 29, 2019.
This directive is coming despite assurances from the Debt Management Office (DMO) that local investors, both individuals and institutional, would be allowed to buy any of the federal government debt securities.
Some days ago, the apex bank stopped the sale of its OMO bills to local investors, but allowed offshore investors to partake in the purchase of the liquidity management tool.
In the midst of the confusion created by that development, the debt office released a statement, clarifying that local traders were not restricted from buying its debt instruments, which include T-bills, bonds and others.
“Following the circular to all banks referenced FMD/DIR/GEN/OGC/14/009 dated October 23, 2019 issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), it has become necessary for the Debt Management Office (DMO) to issue this notice on eligible investors for securities issued by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN).
“The general public is hereby advised that Open Market Operation Bills (OMO Bills) are securities issued by the CBN for monetary management purposes. Thus, the circular in question which excluded some investor categories from investing in OMO Bills, is limited to OMO Bills and does not apply to securities issued by the FGN.
“The DMO wishes to assure the general public that there is no restriction on persons who can invest in FGN securities. Thus, all investors, local and foreign, including individuals, co-operative societies, social clubs, town associations, local corporates, fund/asset managers, pension funds, insurance companies, banks and others are eligible to invest in FGN Securities.
“The DMO offers a wide range of FGN securities in various tenors to meet the needs of its growing and diverse investor base.
“The securities whose tenors currently range from 91 days to 30 years are: Nigerian Treasury Bills (NTB), Federal Government of Nigeria Bonds (FGN Bonds), Federal Government of Nigeria Savings Bond (FGNSB), Sukuk and Green Bonds,” the debt office had clarified in a notice issued on October 29, 2019.
But in a report published today (Thursday) by Punch, it was reported that the CBN has ordered banks and other financial institutions to stop the sale of treasury bills to individuals and small firms with effect from November 29.
Quoting a bank official, the report said, “Operators are trying to see if the November 29 deadline given for the implementation by the CBN could be extended, so as to create enough awareness. But there is no move for the reversal of the directive.”
An operator said the inaccessibility of treasury bills might lead to an increase in savings deposits of the banks, attracting interest rates below what the treasury bills offered.
Further quoting another source from the CBN, it was noted that this move was to stop the mop-up of funds from the system through the treasury bills.
“Many people with huge cash prefer to keep their funds idle in treasury bills instead of investing the funds. Some people collect huge severance package, have huge funds but they have refused to invest the money.
“We want these funds to be useful in the economy so that they will be available in the banks and can be invested to create more jobs in the country,” the source reportedly said.
Business Post reports that the next treasury bills sale at the primary market is slated for next Wednesday, November 13, 2019 and going by this new development, retails investors would still be eligible to partake in it as well as the last exercise for this month, which comes up on Wednesday, November 27, 2019.