The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, has ruled out the possibility of reversing the ongoing implementation of cashless policy.
He spoke on the matter while fielding questions from State House reporters after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on happenings in the CBN and the Nigerian economy in Daura, Katsina State on Thursday.
Emefiele also disclosed that the CBN and commercial banks have mopped up over N1 trillion from the over N2.7 trillion circulating outside of the banking space.
He said the new naira notes had arrived at the banks and are being dispensed to their branches nationwide.
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Emefiele said every village in Nigeria had access to financial services thus, they won’t be negatively impacted with the policy.
“When we announced it, we said December 15th, is when we will issue the cash. But we have to move it forward. The president unveiled the new notes on November 28. The banks received the notes yesterday, (December 5th), and they have started dispensing them” he said.
On the mopping up of naira notes outside of the banks he said “at the CBN, we have taken back more than N500bn worth of naira notes and the commercial banks have also done about N500bn.”
He said Nigeria had sufficient payment system infrastructure to support a full cashless economy which began in 2012.
“It’s important for me to say that the policy started in 2012, but about three or four times, we had to step down the policy because we felt we had to deepen the payment system infrastructure in Nigeria. Between 2012 and 2022, it is about ten years, we believe that a lot of electronic channels have been put in place that will aid people in conducting financial transactions in Nigeria” he said.
“We hear people complaining about the people in rural areas. While I was coming to Daura, I saw a kiosk of a super-agent. We have 1.4 million super agents across the country, in all local governments and all villages in this country.
“Having super agents, which are different from the banks, shows we have 1.4 million points where people can conduct banking services. And we think Nigeria as a big economy in Africa needs to leapfrog into the cashless economy. We cannot continue to allow a situation where 85 percent in circulation is outside of the banks” he stated.
On the call by the Senate for briefing on cashless policy, he said, “from time to time we brief the National Assembly on what is happening about our policies. I understand the Senate has asked for a briefing and we will brief them.
“We will review the policy from time to time but we won’t reverse or change the timing. But if it’s about tweaking the amount, higher or lower, we will do so to make life better. The CBN is monitoring what is happening and we will do what is right,” he said.
Reps ask CBN to halt cash withdrawal policy, summon Emefiele
The House of Representatives has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to halt the implementation of the cash withdrawal limit policy and summoned its governor, Godwin Emefiele, to appear before it next Thursday.
This followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance moved by Magaji Da’u Aliyu (APC, Jigawa) at plenary yesterday.
The apex bank had limited over-the-counter cash withdrawals by individuals and organisations to N100,000 and N500,000, respectively.
It also capped cash withdrawals via point-of-sale machines at N20,000 daily and N100,000 weekly, respectively.
Leading the debate yesterday, Aliyu argued that the policy was obnoxious and arbitrary as it was taken without consultations.
Contributing, Aminu Suleman (APC, Kano) said many businesses would collapse if the CBN policy was allowed to stand.
In his contribution, Nnolim Nnaji (PDP, Enugu) said, “This decision is totally against commerce, there is nowhere in the world, in the economic situation we are in now, we need more spending than savings.
“The only way to drive an economy in this situation is for people to be spending money, not saving money, and for businesses to be moving.”
But, the House Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta), who supported the policy, said it would curb the activities of kidnappers and other criminals who demand cash.
Elumelu said, “Part of the problems that are enforcing kidnapping and all the vices that are very inimical today, if you go to the communities, they will ask them to contribute money because there is cash everywhere.
“If you want to stop banditry, make it impossible for them to have cash, there should not be available cash for them.”
After the debates and contributions, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila called on the House to drop the six prayers contained in the motion and summon the CBN governor on an agreed date.
He promised to explore a joint session with the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, to grill the CBN governor.
“If he appears before the Senate separately and appears before the House separately, he has appeared before the National Assembly but to save time, I will ask if that is possible,” he said.
Policy may raise business costs – ACCI
Meanwhile, the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has said the new policy could increase the cost of doing business due to sanctions on withdrawals exceeding certain limits.
In a statement yesterday by its president, Dr Al-Mutjaba Abubakar, ACCI said the policy would slow down businesses within formal and informal markets as charges on excess withdrawal constituted a new form of levy, which adds to the long list of levies on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and informal business operators.
“As commendable as this policy is, we are worried about the timing of the announcement, which coincides with the ongoing plan to phase out old naira notes.
By Chris Agabi, Muideen Olaniyi, Balarabe Alkassim & Faruk Shuaibu