By Francesca Iwambe
The hardship brought upon Nigerians by the federal government following the redesign of new currency notes may not be ending soon as many branches of the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) complain of inadequate allocation of cash from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on daily basis.
This is despite a claim by the CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele that the apex bank has pushed nearly N1 trillion into circulation, Nigerians continue experience scarcity.
Recall that Emefiele on Tuesday told reporters after the end of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting at the CBN headquarters in Abuja that the apex bank has pumped more cash into circulation.
Fielding questions on the outcome of the MPC meeting, Emefiele said on the Naira redesign policy and where things stand now, the “currency in circulation is roughly close to a N1 trillion and the CBN continues to pump the newly designed currency into the market.”
Speaking on cash flow since the March 3 Supreme Court judgment, Emefiele said: The CBN will need to re-access again to know whether the currency in circulation has attained an optimal level so as to be able to put in place measures that will ensure that we don't go back to what we had before, where people were keeping a lot of money outside the banking system for their own benefit.
“The MPC has noted that the naira redesign and cash withdrawal limit policies have resulted in a sizeable reduction in Currency-Outside-Banks, indicating an expected improvement in the potency of monetary policy tools.”
The CBN governor praised Fintech operators, whom he said “used their idle capacity to boost their online payment,” adding “they have made a lot of money from that.
He said the “online payment on the Intech sector has actually improved quite a lot and we are happy that rather than relying on just only the banks, we have many other channels through which online payment services can be done so that Nigerians don't suffer because we are in insisting that we have to go cashless.
He apologised to Nigerians for the pains they go through while trying to carry out electronic transactions across several bank channels.
But notwithstanding Emefiele's claim that more cash had been pumped into circulation, businesses, consumers and banks customers have demanded immediate end to the ongoing naira scarcity.
As far as they are concerned, the impact of the cash injected by the CBN is yet to be felt in the banking system.
According to small business operators, the cash crunch has limited their transaction volume and ability to meet the financial needs both to their customers and families.
Mary Okon, a Lagos-based entrepreneur said the cash crunch has reduced her volume of sales.
She said: “Before now, I made at least N35, 000 daily sales. Today, recording N10, 000 daily sales has become a big challenge. I plead with the CBN to release more cash to the economy.”
Although banks continued the payment of both old and new naira notes to customers, the volume of the notes in circulation has not met the demand for cash.
Many banks within the Lagos metropolis did not dispense cash to their customers either over the counter (OTC) or through the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
“There were long queues of bank customers at most ATM points that had some cash to dispense. One bank branch in Marina Lagos, could only dispense N10,000 to customers with the bank's ATM card. Customers of other banks got N5,000,” a customer narrated.
In Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, agonies of residents arising from the persisting cash crunch worsened yesterday.
Banks in the Gateway City ran out of cash – both the new and old naira notes of 200, 500 and 1,000 denominations.
At Omida, Lalulu Street (Okelewo), Panseke, Jide Jones, Sapon, Ita – Eko, Kuto and the Old Secretariat area, investigation showed that they only opened to their surging customers to lodge complaints over truncated transactions and debit issues that occurred since the redesigned new naira notes policy took effect.
Those who came for cash withdrawals returned home with disappointments. There were neither OTC payments, nor from the ATMs.
The few ATM points that were dispensing cash stopped at 11am. A security guard in one of the banks cited mechanical faults and cash shortage as reasons.