Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Wednesday, criticised the Central Bank of Nigeria over its weekly cash withdrawal limits, saying the measure cannot help the worsening depreciation of the naira.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, said the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele is chasing shadows having crippled Nigeria’s economy with poor fiscal policies in his about 10-year regime at the apex bank.
The group said rather than coming up with experimental and needless policies like the redesigning of the naira, cash withdrawal limits, amongst others, the apex bank and the Federal Government should cut down foreign loans and reduce Nigeria’s worsening external debt burden which has been said by experts to be the dominant cause of naira depreciation against the United States dollar.
HURIWA further said the daily maximum withdrawals via point of sale (PoS) terminal of N20,000 will force thousands of Nigerians who are PoS operators out of jobs, when the policy takes effect nationwide from January 9, 2023.
The group faulted the policy as bad for a country with 21.09% inflation rate, 133 million people in multidimensional poverty, and unemployment rate of over 33% meaning over 23 million employable Nigerians are jobless.
The CBN on Tuesday directed Deposit Money Banks and other financial institutions to ensure that weekly over-the-counter cash withdrawals by individuals and corporate entities do not exceed N100,000 and N500,000, respectively. The apex bank also pegged the maximum cash withdrawal per day via PoS terminals and Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) at N20,000, saying that only the N200 denomination will be loaded into the ATMs.
The CBN noted that the new policy is sequel to the launch of the redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 notes by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 23, 2022.
Commenting, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The CBN under its current governor, Godwin Emefiele has gone bananas. The apex bank can’t boost the value of the naira, it can’t remit over $550m trapped funds belonging to foreign airlines, forcing many of them to stop flight operations to the country. Manufacturers are also groaning and many dying or relocating from Nigeria because of inaccessibility to forex.
“It banned the supply of forex to Bureau de Change, among others and now, it has introduced limits for withdrawals that makes Nigeria look like a communist economy. Yet, the naira continues to plunge unprecedently against the dollar. Emefiele should be dismissed, he has exhausted his shallow experimental yet resultless policies.
“It is on record that the value of naira to dollar fell from N196.92 in June 2015 to N414.72 in June 2022, worsening Nigeria’s foreign debt burden. Under President Buhari and Emefiele, the naira depreciated by 52.52 per cent against the US dollar, even as the country’s total external debt rose from $10.32bn as of June 30, 2015, to $40.06bn as of June 30, 2022, a whopping increase of 288.18 per cent in seven years!
“The next CBN governor after Emefiele’s sack should borrow the wisdom of the World Bank which advised that to achieve price stabilisation of the naira, the local currency should be allowed to respond to real pressures, and not be bottled up by the CBN.
“Emefiele’s successor should also advise the Federal Government to heed experts’ advice to move away from reliance on foreign assistance to finance developmental projects in the region as means to strengthen the naira.”
50% PoS Operators Close Shops Over Naira Scarcity
Over 50 per cent of Point of Sale operators have closed their shops as scarcity of new and old naira notes bites harder, it has been learnt.
The National Chief Aggregating Officer of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, Hussein Olanrewaju, who made this disclosure on Monday, said the impact of the ongoing shortage of new and old naira notes had worsened the plight of their members.
While noting that agents should be given preferential treatment in access to the new notes, he lamented that some Nigerians had taken advantage of the situation to charge unreasonable fees.
He said, “Operators are licensed bodies that provide platforms which agents leverage on. Currently, agents do not have any preferential treatment to deliver this service, hence, more than 50 per cent of agent shops have been closed down as we speak.
“Some agents, however, go extreme to buy these monies and those who do not, move from one ATM point to another incurring lot of cost in the process which will also reflect on the service charge.
“It’s worthy to note that some Nigerians have taken advantage of this situation to charge people unreasonable charges.”
Hussein further stressed that the ongoing policy meant to swap cash in unbanked areas might not achieve its mandate due to the low number of agents selected for the scheme.
He added that including more agents remained the best solution to easing the financial stress Nigerians were currently facing.
“As designed by the CBN, the exercise is going as expected. However, it doesn’t really translate to profit for agents. Out of over 1.4 million agents, only 30,000 agents were picked to participate in the cash swap programme, the number is too small and can barely effect any change.
“Agents are the ones available and accessible to ease the financial stress Nigerians are currently facing,” he concluded.
Naira Scarcity: Fashola Advises CBN What To Do
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has advised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to review its naira swap policy to reverse its negative impact on Nigerians.
Fashola, who made a live appearance on Channels Television’s The 2023 Verdict on Monday, was reacting to the outcry over the widespread scarcity of the N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes since they were unveiled on November 23, 2022.
According to the CBN, the old versions of those denominations will no longer be legal tenders after February 10, 2023 as the apex bank targets hoarders of illicit funds in the buildup to the general elections.
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The minister bemoaned the hardship brought on by the directive of the apex bank, saying it was imperative that public officeholders reviewed their policies when they had the opposite effect than desired.
“I empathise with those challenges but some of them are the result of policy and it is the responsibility of public servants, especially those responsible for those policies to look back and say, ‘Did we intend to cause this pain?’
“And if the policy is not working, perhaps you have to readjust and to also ask yourself whether you thought this through. As a public officer, before and now, I have had cause to reverse myself, when I saw that my policies were causing unintended results.
“So, I have no responsibility on those two areas and therefore I cannot speak to the details of the facts that are available to the policymakers but the important thing is that those policies are not yet delivering the results and are delivering a lot of inconvenience for [people],” he said.
Naira Crunch: CBN Monetary Policies Best For Nigeria Economy – Obaseki
Despite criticism, pains and suffering in accessing the naira, Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, on Monday insisted that the Central Bank of Nigeria, monetary policies of Godwin Emefiele’s towards a cashless economy remain the right decision for the nation’s economy.
The Governor, however, called for more enlightenment and patience on the path of Nigerians, even as he urged the apex bank to ensure the availability of naira notes for the citizenry whom he said are going through pains in getting money to spend.
The Governor spoke shortly after he summoned a meeting with senior officials of the CBN and senior management staff of banks in Government House Benin on the difficulty of the people in accessing cash.
He also appealed to the people to take advantage of ATMs, POS and bank wallets for transactions.
He said, “I had to invite the Central Bank and senior management of all the banks in Edo state to come and meet with me in the government house because government is very much concern about the plight and suffering of our people who are worried over the inability to get cash from the banking system in Edo state.
“Haven discussed extensively with the CBN and the bankers that the policy of moving the Nigeria economy to one of a cashless system should be encouraged. It is the best thing for our banking system so the Edo state government has no problem with the policy of the federal government to move our economy to a cashless one.
“However, we want to ensure we do this as painlessly as possible; we have to improve on the communication with our people to reduce their fear. When people go to banks to collect cash because they want to spend it on something, we want to help to inform them that they don’t need to collect cash to spend cash.
“We actually have other means to spend cash without going to the bank to collect cash. From Phones, payment can be made to whomever. For those who don’t have sophisticated phones, with USSID codes you can pay for things as small as N500 without spending cash. So when you go to POS terminals, don’t ask for cash, let them do for you what you want to use the cash for via transfer”.
Director, Risk Management of Central Bank, Blaise Ijebor said they are in Edo to ensure there is supply of naira to everyone on Edo state.
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“We are also here to encourage people to use alternative means to make their payment. If you are able to use your card, app or USSID to pay, you can even go to an ATM that doesn’t have cash to do your transfer from them.
“We are aware a number of ATMs are not paying. We are going to make sure that there is supply in a day or two, we have supply available through your bank branches to give some cash to use.”
He also added that there are monitoring teams going round working with EFCC and ICPC to check any illegal act or collusion with banks.
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