Senate asks CBN to review withdrawal limits

. Confirms Ahmad, Adamu for second term

The Senate, yesterday, asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to considerably adjust its recently announced cash withdrawal limits in response to the public outcry against the new policy.

The request followed a resolution, based on a presentation by the Chairman of the Committee on Banking and Finance, Uba Sani, to embark on aggressive oversight of the CBN as it implements the policy and give periodic reports to the Senate.

The Senate’s resolution was reached after an extensive debate by the lawmakers who attended Wednesday’s plenary session, many of whom criticised the cash withdrawal limit policy.

The CBN recently announced a restriction on the maximum cash withdrawal over-the-counter (OTC) by individuals and corporate organisations per week to N100,000 and N500,000, respectively, which will take effect from January 9, 2023.

This is sequel to the launch of the redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 notes by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 23.

Some lawmakers argued that the withdrawal threshold set by the apex bank CBN is unrealistic considering Nigeria’s current economic situation.

Specifically, Spokesman of the Senate, Ajibola Basiru, suggested that the threshold for individuals should be raised to N500,000 weekly, saying: “As a Committee of the Senate, we ought to have been alerted with certain indices to come up with recommendations on what should be the adjustment. I am suggesting that the threshold should be N500,000 for individuals per week.

“The threshold that has been set is unrealistic to have any robust and meaningful life for our people. I am not oblivious of the fact that the Committee has come up with recommendations.”

Some lawmakers like Adamu Aliero, argued that the policy will adversely affect Nigerians in the informal sector, the unbanked, and those in rural communities, especially as only 60% of the 744 local government areas are covered by banks, hence the use of alternative sources to get cash.

“It is difficult to really force these people to embrace banking culture. I support the idea of cashless policy but we should do it with caution,” he said.

Other lawmakers faulted the CBN for not holding wide consultations on the policy before its announcement; while some like Biodun Olujimi, argued that the policy will put Point of Sale (PoS) operators out of business.

“The CBN approved POS operators and registered them and took money from them and now those people can only do so little. It took all our unemployed graduates off the street. This policy will send them back to the streets,” Olujimi said.

As a Committee of the Senate, we ought to have been alerted with certain indices to come up with recommendations on what should be the adjustment.

Tenure confirmation

In another development, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Aishah Ahmad and Edward Adamu for a second term as deputy governors of the CBN.

This followed the consideration of a report by the Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, which screened the nominees.

Ahmad and Adamu were first appointed as deputy governors in charge of the Financial System Stability, and Corporate Services Directorate, respectively in March 2018.

President Muhammadu Buhari re-nominated them last week and forwarded a request to the Senate for confirmation.

The Committee chairman, Uba Sani, while presenting the report, said the appointment of Mrs Ahmad and Adamu was in line with CBN Act, adding that they also possessed the requisite academic and professional qualifications, even as they were cleared by the security agencies, and had no petitions against their nominations.

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