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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.
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.
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.
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, findings showed 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.
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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.
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.
Our correspondent was also informed that the CBN promised to continue disbursing more money to the banks to address the scarcity of cash caused by the CBN naira redesign policy.
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.
Bank personnel at the branches said only customers seeking to do forex-related transactions were being attended to. Upon further inquiry, our correspondent was told that the bank would soon commence over-the-counter payments, but would only pay each customer the sum of N5,000 per withdrawal.
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