Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), says the recently-introduced cash withdrawal policy is not intended to make life difficult for Nigerians but to strengthen the country’s economy.
Speaking with journalists after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura, Katsina state, Emefiele said many nations were adopting digitisation and going cashless.
Under the new policy, the CBN restricted the maximum cash withdrawal over-the-counter (OTC) by individuals and corporate organisations per week to N100,000 and N500,000, respectively.
Emefiele said he embarked on a courtesy visit to Buhari to brief him about happenings in the CBN and the economy.
The apex bank’s governor said Buhari was “very happy and said we should carry on our work, no need to fear, no need to bother about anybody.”
Emefiele also said there were no plans to reverse the new cash withdrawal policy, but added that any necessary assessments of the policy’s specifics will be carried out after performance was assessed.
“We will be reviewing from time to time how this is working because I cannot say that we are going to be rigid,” Emefiele said.
“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 further said the policy was not targeted at specific persons or groups.
“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 explained.
The CBN boss also said N1 trillion of existing denominations of the currency has been received by the banking system.
“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,” he said.
He added that banks have started dispensing the new cash which reached their various offices on Wednesday to their customers.
“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.”
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