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.
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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.
Nigeria’s Economic Growth Too Slow To Reduce Poverty – World Bank
The World Bank has warned that Nigeria’s economic growth is too slow to address the challenge of extreme poverty in the country.
Meanwhile, the bank has retained its economic growth (Gross Domestic Product, GDP) forecast of 2.8% for Nigeria in 2023, citing challenges of high inflation, foreign exchange shortages, and shortages of banknotes caused by currency redesign.
The World Bank gave the warning in the Global Development Prospect report for June 2023.
Among other things, the bank downgraded its economic growth forecast for Sub Saharan Africa to 3.2% for 2023, from 3.4% projected in its April World Economic Outlook. It also projected that global economic growth will slow to 2.1% in 2023, with prospects clouded by financial risks.
READ ALSO: Nigeria’s Borrowing From World Bank Hits $14.34bn In Q1 – Report
The World Bank stated: “After growing 3.1 percent last year, the global economy is set to slow substantially in 2023 to 2.1 percent, amid continued monetary policy tightening to rein in high inflation, before a tepid recovery in 2024, to 2.4 percent.
“Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) continued to decelerate earlier this year owing to various country-specific challenges and heightened external economic headwinds.
“Growth in the three largest SSA economies – Nigeria, South Africa and Angola – slowed to 2.8 percent in 2022 and continued to weaken in the first half of this year. In Angola and Nigeria – SSA’s largest oil producers – the growth momentum has stalled amid lower energy prices and stagnant oil production.
“The post-pandemic rebound in Nigeria’s non-oil sector cooled earlier this year because of persistently high inflation, foreign exchange shortages, and shortages of banknotes caused by currency redesign.
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“Growth in SSA is expected to decline further to 3.2 percent in 2023 before picking up to 3.9 percent in 2024. The recovery in South Africa is projected to slow to 0.3 percent this year as widespread power outages weigh heavily on activity and contribute to the persistence of inflation.
“Growth in Nigeria is expected to remain barely above the population growth – far slower than needed to make significant inroads into mitigating extreme poverty.
“Outlook downgrades, however, extend beyond the major regional economies with elevated cost of living restraining private consumption and tighter policies holding back a pickup in investment in many countries.
“More broadly, worsened domestic vulnerabilities together with tight global financial conditions and weak global growth are expected to keep recoveries subdued.”
Refineries: Reps Call For Forensic Audit Of N11.34trn Spent On Rehabilitation
The House of Representatives has demanded forensic audit of all rehabilitation projects at Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna refineries.
The demand followed the consideration of the recommendations of a report by its ad-hoc committee on the state of refineries and the need to ascertain the actual daily consumption of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, otherwise known as petrol, in Nigeria.
It will be recalled that the consideration of the report was deferred when presented last week because the chairman of the committee of the whole and deputy speaker, Ahmed Idris-Wase, last week told the committee chaired by Ganiyu Johnson to give clear cut recommendations based on its specific mandate.
Re-presenting the report at plenary, yesterday, Johnson said the findings of the committee revealed that the rehabilitation of the three refineries had cost the nation N11.35 trillion in 13 years, beginning from 2010.
READ ALSO: Fuel Subsidy Hits N1.593tn, Refinery Rehabilitation Gulps N54.66bn
He said the refineries became unproductive from 2010, making a range of losses, with Port Harcourt put at 7.6 per cent losses to the tune of N132.52 billion from 2012; Warri at 6 per cent losses amounting to N111.37 billion from 2014 and Kaduna at 10 per cent losses to the tune of N122.62 billion from 2014.
The report stated that from 2010 to 2019, the refineries performed sub-optimally, with an annual combined capacity of less than 30 per cent.
According to the report, the NNPC obtained an executive approval and shutdown the refineries for comprehensive rehabilitation to restore the plants to a maximum of 90 per cent utilisation.
The report said total losses from the non-functional refineries since 2010 were placed at N366.52 billion, while the total cost of operations and running them from 2010–2020 stood at N4.80 trillion.
READ ALSO: Nigeria, Others Need $7.5bn To Deepen LPG Usage – Refiners
It further indicated that subsidy payments totalling N5.9 trillion was made from 2010 to 2020.
The committee, however, recommended that the NNPCL fast tracked the rehabilitation programme of the refineries empowered by the legislative intent for a deregulated business environment and restore the refineries to a minimum 90 per cent nameplate capacity utilisation.
Vanguard reports that the committee also recommended that NNPCL and the contractor (Tecnimont SPA of Italy) be urged to ensure that phase one of the rehabilitation works in Refinery Area 5 of the Old Port Harcourt Refinery, OPHR, with the processing capacity of 60,000 barrels per day earlier expected to be restored to 54,000 barrels per day of processing capacity representing 90 per cent capacity utilization by March, 2023, should unfailingly meet the new target date of September, 2023.
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It asked that a bank (names withheld) refund to the nation the total sum of US$438,012.44 paid them as retainer fees from 2017-2018 as the financing advisory contract for the rehabilitation of the three refineries was not successful and was suspended due to the financing consortia not reaching agreeable terms for the transaction with the NNPC.
Other recommendations include “that the NNPCL and the Contractor (Tecnimont SPA of Italy) be further urged to ensure that phase two of the rehabilitation works in Refinery Areas 1&2 of the New Port Harcourt Refinery (NPHR), with an installed capacity of 150,000 barrels per day be restored to the estimated processing capacity of 135,000 barrels per day.”
FG Records N930bn Two-month Fiscal Deficits – CBN
The Federal Government recorded N930.8bn fiscal deficit in January and February 2023 according to the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The CBN stated in its monthly economic report for February 2023 that, “The estimated overall fiscal deficit of the FGN expanded in February, due to a drop in the retained revenue.
“At N513.05bn, the provisional fiscal deficit of the FGN rose by 22.8 per cent relative to the preceding month. However, it was 16.2 per cent below the budget benchmark.”
READ ALSO: CBN Denies Devaluation Of Naira Report
According to the report, the fiscal deficit was N417.75bn in January.
The report said accretion into the federation account decreased by 32.3 per cent in February relative to the preceding month, on account of the 60.2 per cent fall in oil revenue.
It added that the development led to the expansion of the overall fiscal deficit (provisional) by 22.8 per cent due to a 16.4 per cent surge in provisional FGN capital expenditure, and a 7.7 per cent fall in FGN retained revenue.
Total public debt at N46.25tn (23.2 per cent of GDP) at end-December 2022, remained within the 40.0 per cent national threshold.
It stated that, “At N1.04tn, federation receipts were below the level in January by 32.3 per cent. Similarly, it was below the budget2 of N1.58tn by 34.3 per cent.
READ ALSO: CBN Gives Out N8trn In Interventions To Private Sector In Last 5 Years – Emefiele
“The decline, relative to January was attributed to a fall in collections from petroleum profit tax and royalties. Oil revenue, at N308.07bn, was 60.2 per cent below receipts in the preceding month.
“The outcome was driven, largely, by the 60.5 per cent decrease in collections from petroleum profit tax and royalties.”
At N730.21bn, non-oil revenue, was below the level in the preceding month and the monthly target by 3.7 per cent and 7.4 per cent, respectively.
The decrease was largely attributed to the 10.5 per cent decline in collections from corporate tax on account of the seasonality associated with its payments.
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