Donald Duke, former governor of Cross River state, has asked the federal government to compel banks to reduce interest rates to make credit available and affordable for small businesses.
Duke made the call at the 5th anniversary of the Political Forum G50 with the theme, ‘blueprint for sustainable economic development’, which was held on Saturday in Lagos.
He said the Nigerian banking industry has been a major obstacle to sustainable economic development because of about 25 percent interest being charged on loans to customers.
According to him, Nigeria’s fortune could change for the better if the economy is grown to cater to the country’s rising population by effectively managing revenue from its natural resources and creating a conducive environment for citizens to undertake legitimate means of livelihood.
“If you want to grow an economy, you will have to ensure that credit is available and affordable. In Nigeria, credit is neither available nor affordable for the average citizen to start-up business because of the high-interest rate,” the former governor said.
“Banks should be compelled to reduce their interest rates to the barest minimum in order to encourage entrepreneurship in a country where the population is growing at 3.5 percent while the economy is growing under 2 percent.
“We spend about N1.5 trillion on subsidies, more than we spend on education, health, and infrastructure. We subsidize fuel for cars to drive on roads that do not exist. Gas, which we have in abundance and flare, we sell to domestic users at an international price.
“If we do not create an environment for people to live honestly, then they would start to live in a dishonest manner. If we continue the way we are, in another 30 years, we will be the third most populated country in the world and probably be the most dangerous country.”