CBN Commences Swap Policy In Bayelsa As Traders Lament New Notes Scarcity
Isaac Money, Yenagoa
Few days to the January 31st deadline, the Central Bank of Nigeria on Thursday commenced a swap policy in in Yenogua, the Bayelsa State capital with the commissioning of agents to circulate the newly redesigned notes to rural communities of the state.
Agents commissioned to carry out the exercise were sighted at various bank Headquarters in Yenagoa in their efforts to get the redesigned notes for the swap policy.
Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria recently made arrangements with agents, as well as mobile money operators to swap the old N200, N500 and N1,000 for the newly redesigned notes under the policy.
READ ALSO: Naira Notes: Why Talks With CBN, Banks’ CEOs Failed To Hold — Reps
The initiative, the CBN said, was aimed at increasing circulation of the new naira dominations, particularly in the rural areas.
Agents from communities across the eight LGAs in the state were also seen at headquarters of commercial banks in Yenagoa the state capital trying to exchange the old notes for new ones as part of the deal.
Mr. Nweke Jude, a manager with the CBN Abuja branch, who was in Yenagoa for the exercise, noted that the critical part of the assignment was to actually assess the newly introduced cash swap policy introduced by CBN to ensure that ordinary people and the ‘under-banked’ especially in rural areas would also have access to new notes through super agents and the banks.
“The goal was to reverse the trend of having much currency out of circulation and the banking sector, stashed in houses and other areas which has impacted negatively on the economy, causing inflation in the process”, he said .
In an interview with Mr. Augustine-Osain, one of the agents who came to Yenagoa from Kolo III Community in Ogbia LGA to receive the newly redesigned notes, urged the CBN to do more to empower the agents for the swap policy to be effective.
In a similar development,
most customers in Yenagoa state capital have continued to decry that most Automated Teller Machines (ATM) operated by commercial banks in the City have continued to dispense the old currencies just as Point of Sales Operatives (POS) still dispense the old notes.
READ ALSO: Banks Hoarding New Naira Notes For Next Month’s Elections – Shehu Sani
Findings by our correspondent showed that some super markets and major departmental stores, worship centres in the state capital have also threatened to stop receiving the old notes soon.
Investigations by our correspondent also revealed that even Keke riders along the streets of Yenagoa have also threatened not to collect old notes from passengers soon , even though the threat has been mild for now .
NLC Protests: CBN To Flood Banks With Old Naira Notes
The Central Bank of Nigeria has finally concluded plans to release all N1,000, N500 and N200 notes in its custody to Deposit Money Banks.
This decision is expected to end months of hardships and pains Nigerians have been going through following a controversial CBN naira redesign policy that has caused a severe shortage of old and new naira notes across the country.
The CBN’s latest decision came several weeks after the Supreme Court ordered that old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes should remain legal tender until December 31, 2023.
On Wednesday night, top officials of the CBN and commercial banks confirmed to The PUNCH that the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had directed DMBs to begin the disbursement of old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes to members of the public effective Thursday (today).
According to him, the CBN will also start releasing old notes to commercial banks from Thursday.
READ ALSO: NLC Gives FG 7-day-ultimatum Over Naira Scarcity
According to The PUNCH, Emefiele met with the chief executive officers of DMBs on Wednesday evening where he told them that the central bank would start releasing all old notes in its custody to commercial banks effective Thursday (today).
Sources at the meeting said the CBN would also be cancelling all the controversial cash withdrawal limits it put in place in recent months.
Also, it was learnt the CBN would start by releasing crisp old notes to DMBS after which the ones deposited by commercial banks will also be released.
Furthermore, the CBN stated at the meeting that bank customers would no longer be required to generate any code before depositing their old notes.
One of the bank CEOs at the meeting, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “The CBN governor met with bank CEOs this evening virtually. It was a short meeting that lasted for just about 15 minutes. The governor said all old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes will be released to commercial banks beginning from Thursday. The CBN will start with crisp old notes after which the ones deposited by DMBs will be returned. The plan is to flood the economy with cash and ameliorate the challenges Nigerians have been passing through.“
Top bank chief
The top bank chief added, “Also, the CBN will be cancelling cash withdrawal limits it put in place recently. This means that individuals can now withdraw up to N500,000 across the counter while corporate bodies can do N5m. The CBN is expected to release a circular to this effect later tonight or tomorrow morning (today). But effectively, things should be back to normal as far the cashless policy is concerned.”
Further findings by The PUNCH confirmed the CBN would begin to release the old notes into circulation by Thursday. It was also gathered that banks would begin to pay their customers the old notes immediately to ensure the cash circulate across the country.
According to reliable sources in the CBN, banks have been also been directed to report to the old offices to collect the old naira notes they deposited with the apex bank.
They noted that before the end of the week, the country would be awash with naira notes.
Meanwhile, a top source close to the CBN said the apex bank took the decision to avert the planned picketing of the CBN offices nationwide by supporters and leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress.
READ ALSO: Ramadan: CBN Told To Release More New Naira Notes
Earlier, The PUCH had gathered that the NLC would on Wednesday picket the CBN headquarters and state offices in protest against the lingering naira crisis and fuel scarcity in the country.
The NLC President, Joe Ajaero, who disclosed this at a press conference on Wednesday, lamented that people’s hardships over the naira crisis had worsened.
The union had penultimate Monday issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to address the scarcity of naira notes and fuel which had compounded the hardships being faced by Nigerians.
Though the CBN said then that it had complied with the Supreme Court judgment which directed that the old N200, N500 and N1000 notes should remain legal tender till December 31, banks have continued to ration the amount of cash issued to customers, indicating that they have not received cash supplies from the apex bank.
The three states of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara which sued the Federal Government over the naira redesign policy had threatened to file contempt charges against the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN and the CBN governor, Emefiele for not fully complying with the Supreme Court judgment.
Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja on Wednesday, Ajaero said the planned picketing of CBN offices became imperative following the apex bank’s failure to comply with the one-week ultimatum given to it to make cash available for Nigerians.
Ajaero explained that the union took the decision when it noticed that the situation appeared to be getting worse despite the Supreme Court order allowing the old N500 and N1000 notes to circulate with the new notes till December 31.
He directed all NLC’s affiliate unions and their state councils to begin mobilisation on Friday for the nationwide mass action, saying the Federal Government and the CBN have not shown any commitment to address the situation.
Giving an update about the ultimatum at the briefing which was held at Labour House, Ajaero said workers could no longer access cash to pay fares to their respective workplaces or buy food for their families.
He said, “Last week at the end of our CWC (Central Working Committee) meeting, we gave a one-week ultimatum for the Federal Government to address immediately, among other issues, the issue of cash crunch that was caused by the policy. As of this morning when the CWC met again to review the situation, we discovered that not much improvement has been made.
READ ALSO: Supreme Court Nullifies FG’s Cashless Policy, Naira Redesign
“The situation is still almost the same. People are still buying our currency with our currencies. People no longer have access to the currency and the government seems to be very adamant about this. No moves have been made to reduce the suffering of Nigerians.
“Consequently, the CWC-in-session resolved to go into the process of actualising the one-week notice. From Friday, there will be a mobilisation of all state councils through a NEC meeting. All unions have already been directed to mobilise all their organs and their branches.
“By Wednesday, next week, all Central Bank of Nigeria offices nationwide will be picketed. All central banks from the CBN headquarters will be shut till further notice. Workers are directed to stay at home and join in the picketing exercise.
“We call on Nigerians to understand the circumstances we are operating in. People will be telling you about the political situation. The political situation is self-inflicted and the economic situation is worse than the political situation because people cannot eat.”
The labour leader described the proposed demonstration as “total”, saying the workers have been pushed to the wall.
He added, “Workers can no longer go to the office and nothing is happening. So, we have been pushed to the wall having given one week (ultimatum) and we thought they could address the situation which is not addressed.
“We have decided to take our destiny into our hands. So, comrades, the mobilisation commences immediately and when we talk of action from Wednesday, it’s total; until further notice.’’
The labour leader explained that the lingering fuel scarcity and cash crunch were important issues for the NLC as they affected every Nigerian.
The Secretary-General of the National Union of Aviation Transport Employees, Ocheme Abah disclosed that the unions would comply with the NLC’s directive on the picketing action.
Responding to inquiries from The PUNCH, he said,” Yes, of course, we will comply as NLC directed. Yes, all the unions in all airports.
Meanwhile, the Acting Director of Corporate Communications at CBN, Mr Isa Abdulmumin, said he could not immediately comment on whether the CBN would be releasing the old notes to commercial banks.
He said the apex bank would communicate its position on the matter on Thursday.
Naira Appreciates At Investors, Exporters Window
The Naira on Wednesday appreciated against the dollar at the Investors’ and Exporters’ window, exchanging at N461.50.
The rate represented an increase of 0.11 per cent, compared to the N462 for which it exchanged to the dollar on Tuesday.
The open indicative rate closed at N461.59 to the dollar on Wednesday.
READ ALSO: Old Naira Notes Being Used For Vote Buying In Kaduna – Shehu Sani
An exchange rate of N544.50 to the dollar was the highest rate recorded within the day’s trading before it settled at N461.50.
The Naira sold for as low as N460 to the dollar within the day’s trading.
A total of US$ 431.77 million was traded at the official Investors’ and Exporters’ window.
JUST IN: CBN Raises Interest Rate To 18%
The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria has voted to increase the benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points to 18. per cent, The PUNCH reports.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this while reading the communiqué of the second MPC meeting of the year on Tuesday.
Addressing journalists at the end of the two-day meeting in Abuja, Mr Emefiele, said the committee voted to keep the asymmetric corridor at +100 and -500 basis points around the MPR.
Analysts in the country had predicted the Central Bank of Nigeria and the MPC may not raise the lending rates at the end of the Monetary Policy Committee.
However, the governor stated the slight increase is to mitigate the effect of inflation and other economic issues.
The MPR has been on the rise since April 2022, when it was 11.50 per cent.
READ ALSO: CBN Bans Banks From Operating PoS, Approves 17 Companies as Mobile Money, Operators In Nigeria
The rate impacts lending and inflation rates, and, when jacked up, consequently affects upward movement of prices of goods and services.
He said, The MPC committee voted to raise the MPR by 50 basis point to 18 per cent, retain asymmetric corridor at +100 and -500 basis points around the MPR.”
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