Buhari said we should carry on our work without fear – Emefiele says no going back on cash withdrawal limit

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele has said that the apex bank won’t be rigid with the recently imposed cash withdrawal policy. 

Recall that the CBN recently restricted the maximum cash withdrawal over-the-counter (OTC) by individuals and corporate organisations per week to N100,000 and N500,000, respectively.

Commenting on this while speaking with journalists after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura, Katsina state, Emefiele said the policy was adopted to digitize the economy.

He said Buhari was “very happy and said we should carry on our work, no need to fear, no need to bother about anybody.”

When asked if there are plans to reverse the new cash withdrawal policy, Emefiele said; 

“We will be reviewing from time to time how this is working because I cannot say that we are going to be rigid.

“But it is not to say that we will reverse, it is not to say that we will change the timing, but whether it is about tricking (sic) some amount to be a little bit higher or a little bit lower, and all the rest of them.

“We will do so because we are humans, we want to make sure that we are making life good for our people. We do not want to make life difficult for them.

“So, there is no need for anybody to worry, the central bank is monitoring what is happening and I can assure everyone that we are up and alive to our responsibilities and we will do what is right for Nigeria and Nigerians.

“We think, Nigeria as a big country, the biggest economy in Africa, that we need to leapfrog into the cashless economy.

“We cannot continue to allow a situation where over 85 percent of the cash that is in circulation is outside the bank. More and more countries that are embracing digitisation have gone cashless.”

Emefiele also debunked claims of the policy being targeted at specific persons/groups. He added; 

“I said it at different fora, that this is not targeted at anybody, it’s just meant for the good and development of the Nigerian economy and we can only continue to appeal to Nigerians to please see this policy the way we have presented it.”

He further revealed that about N1 trillion of existing denominations of the currency has been received by the banking system.

Emefiele also said banks have started dispensing the new cash which reached their various offices on Wednesday to their customers.

He said; 

“We have taken more than half a trillion and in the bank we also have close to half a trillion. But what we have done in the central bank is to move more people from different departments into currency processing so that they can process this cash as quickly as possible and from there, banks can now move what they have with them.

“I can only just assure you that it will go round, let us just be calm, luckily the old currency continued to be legal tender till January 31, 2023.

“So, I want to crack a joke, both the painted (new notes) and unpainted (old notes) will operate concurrently as a legal tender. But by January 31, the unpainted one will not be useful to you again, so please take it to your bank as quickly as possible.”

However, The House of Representatives directed CBN to rescind its decision on the revised cash withdrawal limits.

The green chamber, rather urged the apex bank to do more advocacy, enlightenment and sensitisation on small business holders across the country before issuing out policies and directives that may affect their business concerns.

The lawmakers during its plenary on Thursday December 8, resolved that CBN should halt the implementation pending the conclusion of a probe. The House also resolved that the CBN governor should appear before the house next Thursday.

The resolution was sequel to a motion under matters of urgent public importance moved by Hon. Magaji Dau Aliyu. Apart from the minority leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu who supported the CBN policy in that it will curb banditry and reduce the incidence of corruption, many other lawmakers who spoke vehemently condemned the decision of the CBN.

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