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New notes: Current hardship is temporary – FG

The Federal Government has said the current hardship Nigerians are experiencing in order to get the new naira notes is a “temporary situation” needed for…

The Federal Government has said the current hardship Nigerians are experiencing in order to get the new naira notes is a “temporary situation” needed for the country’s economic growth.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, said this Wednesday at 65th ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team in the State House, Abuja.

She said the federal government was worried about the suffering of citizens over the currency swap in banks across the country but described the development as “transient pain.”

According to her, President Muhammadu Buhari is unhappy with the situation, likening it to a wound that needs to be dressed.

The minister, who stressed that the new policy was necessary and appropriate at this moment to combat corruption, added that it had had some positive effects with the massive mopped up of funds outside the banking system.

While reacting to a question on whether the government was not worried that its “beautiful idea” was causing untold hardship on the lives of Nigerians especially in an election year, she said: “Of course, we are worried. We are not happy that citizens have to queue and struggle at ATMs to be able to get their cash. But this is a temporary situation.

“Let me just give you an analogy. If you have a wound, for you to be able to heal that wound, you need to be dressed. And sometimes, when you go to the hospital, they put iodine on the wound and it is very painful. It is necessary to do that to be able to get the wound to heal.

“So, it’s not easy. Mr. President is not happy that citizens are suffering. But we are convinced that it is something that needs to be done at this time and also the Central Bank has been responsive in terms of providing some extension and also further explanation that come the closing date, that it is not all over.

“There is still opportunity for citizens as provided for in the CBN Act, Section 20 subsection 3 to actually take the old currency to the central bank for redemption. So, it’s not all over. But the positive side of it is that there is a lot of currency that has been mopped up by this operation. And it means it has achieved a good level of success, but the only sore point is the pain that it has caused to citizens which is regrettable, but which is also very transient and temporary and the bulk is continuing to address.”

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had on Thursday directed deposit money banks (DMBs) to commence the payment of the redesigned naira notes over the counter, subject to a maximum daily payout limit of N20,000.

The directive came on the heels of business grinding to a halt over the scarcity of the redesigned notes, having deposited old notes with the commercial banks.

The CBN reiterated its commitment to Nigerians to ensure the effective distribution of the newly introduced naira banknotes, urging them to exercise patience as it is working assiduously to address the challenge of queues at ATMs.

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