The House of Representatives has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to immediately suspend the planned implementation of its new policy on revised cash withdrawal limits for individuals and corporate organisations.
House members who appear disgruntled also summoned CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele to appear before her on Thursday over the new policy that is expected to take effect on January 9, 2023, and a host of other policies. that occurred recently. .
This comes just 24 hours after the Senate, in a related development, raised concerns about the policy, with Senate President Ahmed Lawan warning the central bank not to jump on the policy immediately as many Nigerians they will be affected.
He also asked the banking committee to discuss the matter with the 2 CBN lieutenant governors during their screening before next week.
The chamber resolution was approved during a plenary session on Thursday after the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance introduced by Aliyu Magaji, a lawmaker from Jigawa.
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Small businesses and the rural poor will be negatively affected
Magaji and most lawmakers opposed the policy, saying it was too harsh and sudden for Nigerians, especially the poor majority residing in rural areas.
Magaji, who led the debate on the motion, said small businesses are the drivers of Nigeria’s economy and most small business owners conduct their business, trade and transactions in physical cash and in most cases They are not inclined to use the electronic banking system like the majority. of them are illiterate, half educated or not at all educated.
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He said, “This set of Nigerians who are the drivers of the Nigerian economy will be severely negatively affected and their business and livelihood may be seriously affected by these new CBN directives.
“The new policies put in place by CBN will hurt the already declining economy and further weaken the value of Nigeria as Nigerians may decide to use dollars and other currencies as a means of trade and thus devalue the Naira further.” and weaken the economy.
Lawmakers fear a backlash from voters
In his contribution to the motion, Kano’s Aminu Suleman said that CBN issued the directive without regard for Nigerians in remote and rural areas.
He said that lawmakers in the national assembly may be ousted by their constituents if they do not intervene and demand that the CBN suspend the policy.
He said, “This could be a starting board for many of us if we allow this sweeping decision to succeed and my voice should be heard there.
“There are a number of government CEOs in this country who have outlived the substance of their positions because I simply cannot understand how we can wake up one day and introduce this draconian approach to business, giving Nigerians a month to buckle down.
“I think beyond the rhetoric we should look in our books and put in place the necessary legislation to make sure we stop the situation, we have more powers and we can investigate the powers of the CBN and remove excess powers for us who can act on behalf of Nigerians. ”.
Cashless policy to help combat insecurity
However, minority leader Ndudi Elumelu vehemently opposed the motion, describing the policy as the best step yet to combat banditry, kidnapping and other crimes that involve paying ransom cash.
He said, “Regarding the issues of the cashless policy, I think it is the best thing that can happen to this country, although the moment may be difficult, we can ask for an extension of time so that it is well implemented.
“If there’s a cashless policy and people use their phones to transfer money, some of those things won’t happen and that’s the truth.”
Remember that on December 6, 2022, the CBN in a new circular placed limits on cash withdrawals at the teller, ATM withdrawals and point of sale (PoS) withdrawals.
The main bank in a memorandum directed all banks and other financial institutions to ensure that over-the-counter cash withdrawals by individuals and legal entities do not exceed N100,000 and N500,000 respectively per week.
It also mandated that only N200 and lower denominations should be loaded at bank ATMs.
After the policy takes effect, all cash withdrawals above the stated limits will incur 5% and 10% processing fees, respectively.