Naira Scarcity – IMF Advises CBN To Extend Deadline | 36 Governors Beg Buhari To Extend Deadline

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged the CBN to extend the deadline for use of the old notes given the disruptions in trading activities occasioned by the scarcity of the new notes and especially, if the scarcity of the notes persists at the expiration of the February 10, 2023 deadline.

It said: “In light of hardships caused by disruptions to trade and payments due to the shortage of new banknotes available to the public, in spite of measures introduced by the CBN to mitigate the challenges in the banknote swap process, the IMF encourages the CBN to consider extending the deadline, should problems persist in the next few days leading up to the February 10, 2023 deadline.”

Also, the 36 governors in Nigeria have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to extend the deadline and revisit the CBN cashless policy. The governors, under the aegis Nigeria Governors’ Forum, made the demand in a letter addressed to the President, dated February 6, 2023, and signed by the Chairman of the Forum, Governor Aminu Tambuwal, of Sokoto State

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum, in its letter, said: “Even though the identified constraints are to be found in almost every state in the country, they are particularly evident in states like Borno in the North-East and Bayelsa in the South-South where one finds a pitiable number of banks located only in the State capital which would basically render the workability of the new policies impossible for now.

“The speed of implementation of the policy is a recipe for anarchy in the country and we urge a re-think of the policy. Regarding the reviewed cash withdrawal limit, we have found from synthesizing experiences across the country that the informal sector in the States, particularly in the Northern and Niger Delta States almost wholly depends on cash transactions because of the nature of their trade.

“It is our view, Sir, that an immediate limitation in the use of cash without robust engagement with stakeholders as well as the provision of accessible alternatives will deny such people legitimate sources of livelihood.

“We fear that the cumulative effect of these unintended but very profound and probable consequences of these policies would be a rise in the number of unemployed and unengaged persons who will inevitably resort to crime to make ends meet. This has a dangerous implication for the security of the country and the potential to derail Mr President’s security agenda.”

The governors urged the President to extend the span for implementation of the new naira policy and order the CBN to ensure the availability of the new notes.

They said: “We most respectfully pray, Mr President, to approve an expanded time frame for the implementation of the policy and direct the CBN to make the new notes available within the enlarged time frame.

“Direct a thorough assessment of the prevailing economic conditions related to the implementation of the currency change and cash withdrawal limit policies. Direct that States be involved in future discussions regarding the policies in order to have revised policies that would recognize and consider states’ peculiarities.

“Consider and approve the putting in place of necessary infrastructure and facilities within a reasonable time frame to facilitate the implementation of the policy, including introducing incentives to encourage the use of digital payment solutions. This will help reduce the pressure on physical cash and promote financial inclusion, investing in infrastructure to expand access to financial services.

“Direct that a robust enlightenment campaign be mounted to create sufficient awareness in the citizens to have trust in the policy. This will help people better understand the implications of the naira redesign and cash withdrawal limits and how to use digital payments platforms.”

Austine Ikeru
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