By Omoh Gabriel
The current shortage of lower naira denominations will soon be over as the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN has directed all its branches across the country to deal directly with the public, including business owners, in an effort to resolve a lingering scarcity of lower denominations of the naira.
Speaking to journalist at the just concluded IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings, Mr. Isaac Okorafor said there was sufficient supply of lower denomination of the local currency currently in commercial banks.
He said “In addition, all our branches have been directed to indeed interface directly with members of the public, including shop owners to enhance the easy circulation of these notes”.
Okoroafor said that the apex bank only issued clean and fit notes to banks and could only replace unfit notes brought to it by the banks. On currency hawking, he said that the apex bank was aware of the unwholesome act and other abusive treatment of the currency.
“The bank in collaboration with the law enforcement agencies, have taken steps to curb these acts. The CBN is investigating to determine if any of its staff is involved in the criminal act and to take appropriate action on such staff,” he added.
He assured that the law enforcement agencies were working on how to stop the abuses, and called on all stakeholders to join in the fight against abuse of the currency.
He said that “unfit and dirty notes” have remained in circulation because banks failed to invest in currency sorting.
He denied the allegations that the apex bank was charging commercial banks for the replacement of unfit notes.
“What is happening now is that banks have failed to make the needed investments in currency sorting and therefore resorting to re-circulating unfit and dirty notes.
I can assure you that in due course something will be done to check this,” he said. Okoroafor explained that the CBN does not charge Deposit Money Banks, DMBs, for currency sorting services for pecuniary benefits.
“The CBN does not impose any charges on DMBs for currency Sorting Services for the purpose of pecuniary benefits, he said.
“Instead, it is the responsibility of each bank as it is the practice world over to sort its own currency notes appropriately into ‘fit and unfit’ categories before lodging them with the CBN.” He said if any bank failed to perform the responsibility of sorting the notes, the apex bank would do the service on behalf of the bank. This, he said, would attract a legitimate but paltry charge of N12, 000 per box of the currency.
“And one box of Naira for N1, 000 denomination is about 10 thousand pieces and the value is N10 million. If banks lodge money with us that they have sorted we don’t impose any charge upon that,” he said.