1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Central banks are essentially government banks. First and foremost, they govern monetary policy, controlling how much domestic currency will circulate in a country’s economy at any given time. They also act as financial agents for governments, managing and disbursing liquid funds. Third, they may play an international role in setting a country’s exchange rate and/or managing its foreign reserves. Finally, they also have a number of supervisory and regulatory duties to ensure the ongoing stability of the private banking sector.
Central bank independency refers to the extent to which the central bank carries out these functions autonomously of executive and legislative control.
In recent years, central bank independency has assumed growing empirical and analytical significance. On the one hand, the number of countries undertaking central bank reform has gradually increased over the last two decades, escalating dramatically in the early 1990s (Maxfield 1997). On the other hand, this more visible and powerful role for the central bank has been accompanied by a large literature in both economics and political science as to the causes and consequences of independency.
The Nigerian economy, on her adoption of democracy in 1999, therefore, started exploring the monetary anchor that is suitable for her economy particularly plague with high inflation and unemployment rate. As a result, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced its intention to adopt Inflation Targeting regime in January 2009 which was later shelved (Uchendu, 2009). According to Odoko (2008) the apex bank said it has shelved the commencement of earlier scheduled inflation targeting expected to start in January, 2009 to enable it effectively fashion out the operational framework in the Nigerian economy. Also, the authority noticed that in most countries across the world today, the consensus is to grant respective central banks instrument as well as financial and budgetary independence so as to ensure their effectiveness in the formulation and execution of monetary policy. Thus, the Central Bank of Nigeria was granted partial operational autonomy, making it independent. By 2007, the CBN was given total autonomy (CBN Act, 2007). Hence, the Nigerian monetary framework now combines operational independence with transparency. An important feature of the framework is increased accountability through the frequent publication of the communiqué of the apex bank’s operation.
Recently, this autonomy was threatened by the move by the lawmakers to amend the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Act. This has caused a lot of concern to stakeholders and researchers.
Hence, this study is out to investigate the independency of the Central Bank of Nigeria. This is especially important in view of the fact that the Central Banks of Nigeria economies has experimented with exchange rate targeting and monetary targeting in the past. According to Martijn and Hossein (1999) and Dincer and Eichengreen (2009) , the case for independence and transparency is based on the notion that it increases the credibility of monetary policy as policy becomes predictable by private agents. It also adds to political credibility of a country and the Central Bank, especially if policy has been time inconsistent. Additionally, independency and transparency is associated with a low inflation rate.
The Central Bank of Nigeria was established by the CBN Act of 1958 and commenced operations on July 1, 1959. The major regulatory objectives of the bank as stated in the CBN act of 1958 is to: maintain the external reserves of the country, promote monetary stability and a sound financial environment, and to act as a banker of last resort and financial adviser to the federal government. The central bank’s role as lender of last resort and adviser to the federal government has sometimes pushed it into murky regulatory waters. After the end of imperial rule the desire of the government to become pro-active in the development of the economy became visible especially after the end of the Nigerian civil war, the bank followed the government’s desire and took a determined effort to supplement any short falls in credit allocations to the real sector. The bank soon became involved in lending directly to consumers, contravening its original intention to work through commercial banks in activities involving consumer lending. However, the policy was an offspring of the ndigenization policy at the time. Nevertheless, the government through the central bank has been actively involved in building the nation’s money and equity centers, forming securities regulatory board and introducing treasury instruments into the capital market.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Central Bank Independence is closely associated with inflation targeting. Inflation Targeting is defined as a framework for policy decisions in which Central Bank makes explicit commitment to conduct monetary policy to meet a publicly announced numerical inflation targets within a particular time frame (Aliyu and Englama,
2009). Central Bank therefore endeavors to adopt a monetary policy framework that would ensure price stability which can only be achieved by the CBN’s independency. The independency of the Central Bank of Nigeria has been questioned recently by the action of the immediate past president of Nigeria, Mr. Goodluck Jonathan in the suspension of the CBN governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. However, the researcher is out to examine the independency of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The following are the objectives of this study:
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are the significance of this study:
1.7 SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study on the evaluation of the independency of the Central Bank of Nigeria will cover the operations of the CBN with a view of identifying the level of independence of the apex bank.
LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
Aliyu, S and Englama, A (2009), Is Nigeria Ready for Inflation Targeting?, MPRA Paper, no. 14870, Available Online http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/14870/
Martijn J and Hossein S (1999), ‘Central Bank Independence and the Conduct of Monetary Policy in the Uniited Kingdom’, IMF Working Paper, no 170.
Eichengreen, K. (2009). Measuring Central Bank Independence: Ordering, Ranking, or Scoring? In King Banaian and Bryan W. Roberts Jr., eds, The Design and Use of Political Economy Indicators. New York: Palgrave, 2008
Maxfield E, (1997), ‘Central Bank Independence and Transparency: Evolution and Effectiveness, IMF Working Pap
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