#Finance

‘Cash crunch may last till January’

By Francis Akinnodi

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The prevailing cash scarcity across the country may not end until January, next year, findings have re­vealed.

Information obtained by newsmen from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) indicated that the cash crisis may not be unconnected to the fast approach­ing festive season and the initial announcement that the old Naira banknotes would cease to be legal tender by December 31, 2023.

Investigations by The Hope have revealed that busi­nesses and individuals are being impacted by the cash crunch as the Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) and Point Of Sale (POS) services across  many cities have no cash to dispense.

According to our source, ma­jority of Nigerians, especially those in the rural areas, are still not aware of the court judgement which set aside the decision to end the use of the old Naira notes by the close of December.

Recall that the Supreme Court panel led by John Okoro ruled that the old notes remain legal tender until they are replaced with the redesigned notes.

According to Justice Okoro, the old notes would co-exist as legal tender with the redesigned ones.

But a CBN source said not many Nigerians are aware of the judgement, hence there are apprehension over old notes, forc­ing majority of them to hoard the naira notes they have ahead of the anticipated scarcity.

“We are aware of the scarcity and we are engaging with rele­vant stakeholders to address it,” the CBN source said.

He added: “The scarcity, to me, is self-induced. People are delib­erately hoarding cash ahead of the festive season.

“You know, people naturally like to carry cash during Christ­mas because there is this heavy spending spree during the peri­od.

“Another thing is, you and I know that both the old and new Naira notes shall continue to co­exist well beyond December 31 as per the recent Supreme Court pronouncement, but how many Nigerians know this, especially those in the rural areas?

“They are still of the notion that the legality of the old notes would expire by the end of the year hence people tend to keep their monies for themselves in­stead of depositing it in banks.

“All this may be the reason for the cash crunch but, neverthe­less, I am aware that the CBN is interfacing with the deposit mon­ey banks to find a lasting solution to the development.”

It was gathered that the se­vere cash crunch is not limited to major cities but is widespread as naira shortage and dry ATMs are reportedly across the country.

The scarcity of cash has forced banks to limit cash with­drawals, causing significant in­convenience to the public.

Some banks have allegedly resorted to buying cash to dis­pense to their customers, further highlighting the severity of the situation.

The central bank has in­creased the supply of banknotes to lenders in the effort to end the shortages and has implemented weekly withdrawal limits to man­age the cash supply.

The ongoing naira scarcity has had a significant impact on the public, with many people hav­ing to wait for hours at ATMs to withdraw limited amounts of cash.

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