• Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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New notes scarcity persists despite CBN order

Naira shortage puts $220bn informal economy on life support

New naira notes were still hard to get on Monday nearly one month after they entered circulation, with some Nigerians now treating them as collector’s items, findings show.

Many banks failed to load their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) with the new naira notes despite an order from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last week.

Visits to some of the banks in Lagos show that their ATMs were still dispensing the old notes, even as the new notes were still not available over the counter.

Responding to the development, Jude Monye, executive director of Heritage Bank, said customers should know that the old naira notes are still a legal tender until January 31, 2023, the deadline for the return of the old notes.

He said although there is an order from the regulator, if a bank does not have enough of the new naira notes, it can still load the old ones.

“If you go to the ATM and it dispenses old notes, you do not reject it. Again, if you load new naira on the ATMs, people will finish it in less than no time,” he said.

Osita Nwanisobi, director of corporate communications at the CBN, did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment on the development.

The CBN last week issued a directive to the banks to put the new notes in their ATMs and stop giving them out to customers over the counter.

This followed complaints by Nigerians who had not been able to access the redesigned notes since it was rolled out on December 15, 2022.

Commercial banks on Monday issued notices to their customers following the apex bank’s regulatory directive with respect to cash withdrawal limits effective January 9, 2023.

First Bank of Nigeria explained to its customers that the maximum weekly cash withdrawal limit for individuals across all channels is N500,000 and that when a cash withdrawal is necessary for a valid reason above this limit, a 3 percent processing fee will be charged.

Corporate organisations will only be able to make maximum cash withdrawal of N5 million per week across all channels. For withdrawals above the limit, a 5 percent processing fee will be charged.

Read also: New Naira: CBN insists on January 31 deadline

“Please note that we will collect the following information from you and present them to CBN for transactions that exceed the limits of N500,000 for individuals and N5 million for corporate organisations: Valid means of identification (National ID, International Passport, or Driver’s License), Bank Verification Number, Tax Identification Number of both the payee and the payer, approval in writing by our CEO authorising the withdrawal, and third party cheques above N100,000 shall not be eligible for payment over the counter, while the existing limit of N10 million on clearing cheques still subsists,” a notice from First Bank reads.

Zenith Bank, in its notice to its customers, said: “We urge you to take advantage of our robust suite of digital channels to carry out your transactions in view of the limitations on cash withdrawals.”

The CBN, on December 21, 2022, revised the cash withdrawal limits in response to mounting pressure from the public.

Consequently, individuals can now withdraw not more than N500,000 instead of N100,000 weekly, while corporate organisations can withdraw a maximum of N5 million as against N500,000 per week.