BusinessDay

New naira: No going back on January 31 deadline- Emefiele

Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) insisted on Tuesday that there are no plans to shift the January 31, 2023 deadline for the naira redesign policy which mandates the public to deposit all the old N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes into their banks or risk losing them as legal tender.

Emefiele gave the clarification following various clamor from all quarters including law makers and citizens for the CBN to reconsider the deadline which they see as short and disenfranchising.

Addressing a press conference at the end of the two days meeting of Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), he explained that the policy is being pushed by the CBN to help it effectively drive monetary policy goals which has been largely undermined by the huge currency still outside the banking system.

Read also: Old Naira notes: CBN on sensitisation drive in Cross River, insists on January 31st deadline

Emefiele explained that for instance, currency in circulation grew just in seven years from N1.4 trillion to N3.23 trillion between 2015 and 2022.

He said the apex bank believes that there is no reason why currency in circulation would have grow this much if it is not being kept outside the banking system.

His words : “In 2022 currency in circulation had grown to N3.2 3 trillion more than double as about N1.7 trillion was left in the vaults of bank by the end of the year .

“This has made the efficacy of monetary policy so difficult because what you would have expected is that when currency is issued, it will circulate. After some time, the old and and those which had worn out would be returned to CBN.

“So, there is no reason why currency in circulation will grow from N1.4 trillion to N3.2 3 trillion in seven years. People are hoarding it. People are keeping vaults in their homes.

“We cannot allow them to be banks in their homes. They don’t have the license to build bank vaults in their homes. They should release that money back to CBN because what they are doing is undermining monetary policy. They are keeping those monies to speculate against our currency and it is making our work difficult in CBN.”

He said apart from the monetary policy goals, the naira is also being redesigned to check high insecurity across the country including terrorism, kidnapping and banditry

“I think kidnapping and ransom taking, somehow has reduced. Security agents are doing a fantastic job. But I think that it has slowed those people down because they know that collecting old notes is not going is not going to help them.

Emefiele further disclosed that as at last week, close to about N1.5 trillion old notes have been returned to the banks and hopes that the figure could get up to N2trillion by this week.

He said the CBN has made every effort including awareness campaigns and use money agents especially in the rural areas to ensure no one is left out, but warms again that any old notes not deposited in the banks by December 31 would no longer be valid for transactions.

He encouraged everyone, including those who are scared of consequences especially from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and ICPC to deposit their stashed funds and that there is nothing to fear.

“Nobody is going to harass you if you you are afraid of being harassed.

“Trust me, we have begged the EFCC and ICPC to please allow us do our work so that people can bring their money in,” he stressed.

“We are begging them to bring you them nothing would happen to you on my hands.”