The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over the weekend continued in its direct distribution of lower denomination banknotes to marketers, merchants, shopping malls, supermarkets, tollgates among others by visiting the ultra-modern Tejuosho market, Lagos.
The Director, Currency Operations Department, Central Bank of Nigeria Mrs Priscilla Eleje at the public sensitisation and enlightenment campaign of the banks direct intervention on lower denomination banknotes said one of the key objectives of the CBN as enshrined in the CBN Act, 2007 (section 1) is the issuance and management of legal tender currency in Nigeria.
But in recent time, the bank has observed the inadequate circulation of the lower denomination banknotes and difficulties encountered by economic agents .This she said, is despite huge volume of banknotes injected into circulation on annual basis.
The CBN, she said, recognises the important role markets play in economic growth, hence the need to ensure accessibility to lower denominations to carry out legitimate economic transactions.
It was in recognition of this that the management of CBN approved the direct disbursement of N200, N100, N50, N20, N10 and N5 denominations to economic agents.
Eleje explained that the framework for disbursement of these denominations stipulates that it would be made through the respective Deposit Money Banks (DMB) of the beneficiaries, stressing that the beneficiaries must ensure that their accounts are funded before any withdrawal could be made on their behalf.
The DMBs on their part are expected to include the demands of their merchants and market associations in their request to CBN when making normal withdrawal or deposit. However, she said the bank notes are to be delivered to the association at no extra cost.
“Therefore, market associations are not expected to add any cost to their members. In order to guard against possible abuse or diversion of these banknotes, the bank has developed a monitoring framework to ensure the judicious utilisation of the funds disbursed,” she stated.
The exercise according to the central bank consists of on the spot-checks to the premises of the beneficiaries after receipt of disbursement as well as mystery shopper approach to shops, markets and toll gates and any beneficiary found to violate the procedure would be delisted.
Eleje explained that when the objective of the intervention is met, it will principally ease accessibility and address the scarcity of these denominations in circulation.
The disbursement which started in Abuja had been extended to Lagos, Kano, Enugu, Onitsha, Ibadan, Yola, Gombe, Katsina, Jos, Port-Harcourt, Minna and Umuahia in Abia state.
On his part, the CBN Lagos Branch Controller, Mr James Omerebere, urged the traders not to continue to recycle dirty or mutilated Naira notes but return such to their banks.
Mr Omerebere, also warned them against selling or hoarding the Naira , saying it is an economic sabotage.
Speaking on behalf of the traders, the market Leader of Tejoshuo Model Market, Alhaja Titilayo Noyimot, appreciated the CBN for making lower denominations available to traders in Lagos markets.
Alhaja Noyimot, who noted that the lower denomination notes given to the petty traders made it possible for them to have more customers, urged the CBN to extend the gesture to transporters to avoid fighting with their passengers.
Some petty traders who could not hide their joy told Radio Nigeria that with the move by the CBN, the era in which traders quarrel with their customers over lack of change after buying their wares would be over.
The public sensitisation and enlightenment campaign on CBN direct intervention on lower denomination bank notes which had been taken to some other states, is expected to be held in other markets in Lagos.
At the foreign exchange market the dollar sellers for 305 Naira 75 kobo, CBN rate, pounds sterling 400 Naira 7 kobo while the Euro goes for 357 Naira 36 kobo.