—Says initial hardship necessary for economy
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed on Thursday said that the Federal Government is worried over the hardship the redesign of the maira is causing the people.
The Minister said the harsh realities faced by citizens due to the introduction of the new naira notes by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, is a necessary price to pay for the long-term health of the economy.
Speaking while fielding questions from State House correspondents when she featured at the 65th session of the State House Ministerial Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Mrs. Ahmed said President Mohammadu Buhari is not happy that the citizens are suffering because of the implementation of the naira redesign but was convinced that the policy will at the long run be beneficial to the economy.
According to her, the current hardships, though temporal, are required to stifle corruption and gradually transition into a cashless economy.
She said that one of the positive aspect of the policy is that a lot of money have been mopped up.
Recall that in November last year, the CBN had announced that it will redesign the N200, N500 and N1000 notes of the naira.
The nation’s apex bank gave January 31, 2023 as the deadline for the populace to return all old notes to commercial banks after which they will cease to be Legal Tender.
The decision generated a lot of controversy which necessitated the meeting between President Buhari and the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele in Daura on Sunday, January 29 where the later after the meeting announced a 10-day extension from January 31 to February 10, 2023.
The new dates also include a grace period of seven days (February 10-February 17, 2023) when Nigerians could return old notes to the CBN.
Speaking in Daura on Saturday, January 28, the President had argued that the FG’s currency swap is not meant to target innocent citizens but corrupt persons and terror financiers hoarding illicit monies.
He also assured Nigerians that the government will ensure that they and their businesses will face no harm from disruptions caused to the entire supply chain arising from the currency swap.
However, the scarcity of the new naira notes has become a thing of concern to many Nigerians, who cannot lay their hands on either the new notes or the old ones.
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