New Telegraph

Cash scarcity to ease as banks collect old notes from CBN today

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There are indications that the cash scarcity, which has disrupted economic activities across the country in recent months, will finally ease in the next few days as Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) will begin collecting old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), New Telegraph has learnt. Reliable sources in the CBN said DMBs have been instructed to collect the old naira notes they deposited in the apex bank and that before the end of the week, the country would be awash with naira notes. The sources spoke with New Telegraph shortly after the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) announced that it had directed its members to stay at home as from next Wednesday and also picket all branches of the CBN across the country over the cash scarcity-induced hardship that Nigerians are currently facing.

There had been speculation in some quarters that the CBN had burnt or destroyed the old naira notes. Although the CBN had on March 13 directed DMBs to begin paying the old naira notes to their customers in compliance with the Supreme Court judgement of March 3, 2023, which extended the validity of the old notes till December 31, many of the lenders have been rationing cash (sometimes limiting the amount customers can withdraw from Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and over the counter to N10,000) on the grounds that they are yet to collect the old notes they deposited in the apex bank.

The Governor of the CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had announced on October 26 that the apex bank had obtained President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval to change the design of the N200, N500 and N1,000 denominations. The CBN Governor, who said that bank customers were expected to deposit their old notes in their bank accounts and that the new currency notes would become legal tender as from December 15, 2022, explained that the move was aimed at addressing the increasing ease and risk of currency counterfeiting as well as the worsening shortage of clean and fit currency, with the attendant negative perception of the central bank. However, the implementation of the naira redesign policy led to bank customers who deposited their old banknotes in their accounts, being unable to access cash. In a bid to curtail the violence that erupted in some parts of the country over the naira scarcity, President Buhari had on February 16 ordered the return of old N200 notes, while he said the N500 and N1000 notes remained illegal. But some state governments which had sued the Federal Government at the Supreme Court over the naira redesign policy, again approached the apex court over the President’s pronouncement. The Supreme Court in its ruling extended the validity of the old banknotes till the end of this year. About a week after the ruling, the Presidency issued a statement denying speculations that it had ordered the Attorney General of the Federation and the CBN not to comply with the Supreme Court’s judgement.

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