Old notes: CBN begins monitoring today

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Thursday began the disbursement of old naira notes to Deposit Money Banks as government authorities stepped up efforts to end the biting currency scarcity that has inflicted pain on millions of bank customers nationwide.

As reported by The Punch, the central bank had directed DMBs to pick old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes at its offices across the country for onward disbursements to customers, following a meeting between the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and bank chief executive officers on Wednesday.

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Findings on Thursday revealed that commercial banks got old naira notes from CBN offices across the country.

Multiple bank sources including CEOs and top executives confirmed that the apex bank released old notes to banks.
“I can confirm to you that we received old notes from the CBN today, we also received a memo from the central bank to this effect,” the CEO of a commercial bank said on condition of anonymity.

Also, a general manager at a tier-2 bank told one of our correspondents that the lender got some old notes from the central bank on Thursday.

“The CBN has started giving us old notes. However, it will take some time for the currency to circulate,” a top official of a mid-size bank confirmed to one of our correspondents on Thursday.

However, top bank officials said it would take about two weeks for the situation to normalize, adding that bank queues might not disappear until later next week.

They also hope to pay N500,000 per customer by next week.

“The situation will not normalise immediately. The impact will begin to be felt on Friday. Overall, things should normalise between one and two weeks,” a top bank executive said.

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Also, the National President, Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions, Mr Olusoji Oluwole, said, “Until recently, the volume of the old currency released to banks has been minimal. This coupled with panic withdrawal by customers, and the restriction of daily withdrawal limits by the CBN has caused continued rationing. However, with the announcement yesterday by the CBN to pump more cash into the system, we hope the pressure will ease by next week if the CBN keeps to this promise.”

However, there are indications that only a few banks began disbursements on Thursday. It was learnt that several bank branches got the funds from the CBN very late. As such, they could not begin the disbursement.

But the CBN has reportedly concluded plans to dispatch a team of officials to monitor compliance on the part of banks.

It was gathered that the apex bank officials would monitor banks in Lagos, Abuja and other cities with a view to enforcing proper disbursement of the old notes collected from the CBN.

Top officials of the bank were said to have been directed to ensure the speedy recirculation of the old naira notes, hence the monitoring exercise.

NLC meets CBN

Delegates from the CBN on Thursday met with Nigeria Labour Congress over the planned protest due to the scarcity of naira notes in the country.

The meeting, which took place at the Labour House in Abuja, was attended by the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, and a deputy governor of the CBN.

The congress disclosed this in a post on its official Facebook page. The post read, “Congress President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, received in audience a delegation of the Central Bank of Nigeria led by the deputy governor.”

The NLC had said it would on Wednesday next week embark on a nationwide strike over the scarcity of cash in the country. Ajaero gave the directive during a media briefing in Abuja.

When asked on Thursday evening if the strike would still go ahead despite the meeting with the CBN officials, Ajaero said, “The strike will hold until the situation in the country normalises.”

Meanwhile, a reliable source who was privy to the meeting explained that the CBN said it had disbursed N20bn to banks nationwide, adding that banks in Lagos got N4bn while the lenders in Abuja received N2bn.

The source said, “We are not going to rely on what they told us that they are pushing; we all go to banks. The Director of Operations came to meet with us this evening. They said based on our complaints and ultimatum, they have redoubled efforts. Today, they said they released about N2bn to banks in Abuja and about N4bn to banks in Lagos. They released nothing less than N20bn today across the country. They intend to do that consistently for a period to ensure that there is a relief.

But as at Thursday, banks were still rationing cash in their custody despite the CBN directive on the release of old N1,000 and N500 notes.

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