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No going back on withdrawal limits policy, Emefiele insists

Emefiele says it's important for Nigeria to leapfrog into the cashless economy.

Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria
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The new monetary policy restricts over-the-counter cash withdrawal by individuals and organisations to N100,000 and N500,000, respectively, per week.

The policy also limits cash withdrawals via point-of-sale machines and automated teller machines to N20,000 daily and N100,000 weekly, respectively.

Reacting to this, on Thursday, December 8, 2022, the House of Representatives during its plenary asked the CBN Governor to appear before it next week Thursday to explain the significance of the policy on withdrawal limits.

The lawmakers also asked Emefiele to suspend the implementation of the policy pending the outcome of the expected engagement on compliance with relevant sections of the CBN act and the 1999 constitution on the monetary policies of the apex bank.

Also, the Senate on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, said there was a need to debate the policy and question two CBN chiefs, Aisha Ahmad, and Edward Adamu on the new cash withdrawal policy.

Speaking with journalists on Thursday after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on the development in Daura, Katsina State, Emefiele said a lot of electronic channels designed for the policy had been put in place since 2012 when the cashless policy was introduced.

He said the policy was stepped down on a number of occasions to fully prepare for its implementation and deepen the payment system infrastructure in Nigeria.

Emefiele said he visited the president to assure him that all plans on the currency and cashless policy were “going on well”.

Asked about what the CBN would do if the lawmakers kick against the policy, the Governor of the apex bank said the CBN would brief the lawmakers about the policy, adding that Nigeria needed to leapfrog into the cashless economy.

He said, “The Senate of the Federal Republic is National Assembly, they are legislative arm of the government and from time to time we brief them about what is happening and about our policies and I am aware that they have asked for some briefings and we will brief them.”

“Having 1.4 million of them is as good as having 1.4 million banking points where people can conduct services. And we think, Nigeria is 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 per cent of the cash that is in circulation is outside the bank. More and more countries that are embracing digitization have gone into cashless.

On the redesign of naira notes, the CBN Governor said banks had started dispensing the new cash.

“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,” he said.

He disclosed that about N1 trillion of the old notes had been returned to the banking system.

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