The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has turned down the Senate request that the deadline for phasing out old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes earlier fixed for the end of January be extended to July 31, 2023.
CBN said that the benefits of the decision were already been experienced across the country and that extending the deadline would serve as a drawback for the gains earlier achieved after the currency redesign.
Meanwhile, the CBN has further raised the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR), which measures interest rate, to 17.5 percent for the first quarter of 2023.
The apex bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, who announced this after the CBN’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, stressed that kidnapping and ransom-taking have reduced since the three banknotes were redesigned.
He also said the time given for the swap of the old naira notes with new ones was enough for Nigerians to go to commercial banks and get new notes.
The CBN had on October 26, 2022 announced its plan to redesign the three banknotes. President Muhammadu Buhari subsequently unveiled the redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 notes on November 23, 2022, while the apex bank fixed January 31 deadline for the validity of the old notes.
There have been concerns from many Nigerians over the slow spread of the three new naira notes as the January 31 2023 deadline approaches but the apex bank has insisted that the date stands.
The CBN also recently directed commercial banks to halt over-the-counter payment of the new notes and load their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) with the redesigned naira notes to boost circulation.
The apex bank also launched a cash swap programme nationwide to enable those in the unbanked areas to exchange their old notes for new notes before the deadline.
However, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum have asked the CBN to extend the date to enable more Nigerians to get the new notes.
Senators, during a debate on a motion by Sadiq Umar (APC, Kwara) at Tuesday’s plenary, said the new notes were not enough in circulation, warning that if the deadline was not extended, there would be chaos in many parts of the country.
The lawmakers also expressed dismay that the CBN had insisted on the January 31 deadline despite huge public outcries on the measures introduced.
The Senate, therefore, asked the CBN to extend the deadline by six months to allow Nigerians especially those in rural areas more time to change their old notes.
The Red Chamber also urged the CBN to compel deposit money banks to open a naira exchange window for those without bank accounts.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan assured that the National Assembly leadership would ensure that the resolution is implemented by the CBN.
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