The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the House of Representatives have agreed to extend the time limit for the redemption of old naira notes in compliance with Section 20 (3) of the CBN Establishment Act. Even after they cease to be legal tender by February 10th, the ₦1000, ₦500, and ₦200 notes will now continue to be redeemable at all commercial banks. This move is yet another backtrack by the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who had previously announced that there would only be a one-week grace period for the redemption of old notes, and even before then announced that the initial January 31 deadline was irreversible.
This decision was reached in a meeting that was called after bank CEOs claimed that new naira notes were not available in sufficient quantities. Bank employees whom TechCabal previously interviewed made similar claims. The CBN has also been instructed to restore over-the-counter transactions by banks and increase ATM cash withdrawal limits to fast-track the circulation of the new notes. Emefiele has been directed to provide weekly reports on the release of new notes to commercial banks, to enable the House of Representatives to verify the claims made by bank CEOs. This is supposed to put an end to the growing scarcity of cash and the inflationary responses of POS agents, who have been reportedly charging withdrawal customers as much as 10% of the cash withdrawn.
These decisions were reached after the highly anticipated meeting between the Rep. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa-led ad-hoc committee and Emefiele at the National Assembly in Abuja on Tuesday. Emefiele, who had failed to appear before the committee on two previous occasions, finally appeared to brief members on the cashless policy and currency swap timeframe. The Speaker of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, presided over the meeting, and the committee submitted a report to the House, which approved the recommendations and made additional ones.
The ad hoc committee will continue monitoring the CBN’s operations with regard to the cashless policy and naira swap timeframe to ensure full compliance with the decisions made by the House.
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