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Debtors are economic saboteurs – AMCON

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The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has described debtors of the corporation as economic saboteurs and should be made to fulfill their obligations for economic growth.

The corporation described as unacceptable the way economy was `bleeding’ while the debts owed it by 350 Nigerians would be enough to fund the deficit in the 2017 budget.

The Managing Director of the corporation, Mr Ahmed Kuru said that henceforth the corporation would move hard on such debtors with a view to freeing some money for the economy to grow.

Kuru spoke on Monday in Enugu during a retreat between AMCON and members of the House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Currency.

He said that the obligors owed the corporation to the tune of N2.5 trillion, adding that the prevailing situation had hampered business models in the country.

He said that it was more intriguing that the debtors had sued in various courts across the country either by disputing the debt or claiming damages against AMCON.

“Our recent assessment of obligors identified 350 accounts that represent about 80 per cent of AMCON’s current exposure of N2.5 trillion as at Dec. 31, 2016.

“Consequently, we have repositioned our debt recovery approach to strengthen legal and credit restructuring units to collaborate on the aforementioned accounts termed defaulters,” he said.

He said that the corporation was established in 2010 to intervene in the banking sector to maintain economic and social stability in Nigeria due to the unprecedented rise in nonperforming loans.

“AMCON acquired over 13, 000 of such loans worth N3.7 trillion from 22 banks and injected N2.2 trillion as financial accommodation to 10 banks in order to prevent systemic failure.

“This intervention helped stabilise the financial system as about N3.66 trillion of depositors’ funds and interbank takings were protected and approximately 14,000 jobs were saved,” he said.

Kuru said that AMCON had so far recovered N716.1 billion from obligors of which cash and assets accounted for 45 per cent and 55 per cent respectively.

He called for legislative intervention to enable the corporation overcome the bottlenecks militating against debt recovery.

In an opening remark, the Chairman, House Committee on Banking and Currency, Mr Jones Onyereri said such retreats fell within the legislative oversight ambit of the committee.

Onyereri said that the exercise enabled the National Assembly to be duly informed on how to straighten the operational efficiency of the corporation through legislative instruments.

He said that AMCON was created to assist the Nigerian financial sector to achieve stability by buying toxic assets of Eligible Financial Institutions.

“I find it troubling that while some of these obligors frustrate AMCON recovery efforts by exploiting the court system, they continue to do business with the Federal Government,“ he said.

Onyereri assured that ideas reached at the close of the exercise would receive the support of the committee with a view to amending AMCON Act for greater efficiency.

In a presentation, the AMCON General Manager, Credits, Mr Joshua Ikioda said it was unfortunate that 350 people were holding the country to ransom.

Ikioda said that the N2.5 trillion owed by the 350 obligors was enough to fund the 2017 budget deficit.

“We have a budget gap of N2 trillion while 350 Nigerians are owing us more than that. The Federal Government will have no need to borrow in order to finance part of the budget if they pay the debts,” he said.

He said that it was unacceptable that a few people would mortgage the future of the country, adding that everything would be done to get the obligors pay the debts.

“The challenge now is for Nigerians to see the benefit in getting a loan and paying. If nothing is done to the people owing us we might be indirectly passing a wrong message to younger generations. This is a national call,” Ikioda said.

Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, while declaring open programe, called for efficient debt control and recovery system.

The theme of the retreat is: “Enhancing Debt Recovery Efforts as a Tool for Growing the Nation’s Economy”.