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CBN Bows To Pressure, Increases Weekly Cash Withdrawal Limits, In Review Of Policy

Following the ruckus generated by the new cash policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the apex bank has revised upward weekly cash withdrawals for individuals and corporate bodies to N500,000 and N5 million respectively.

This is as the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, has said that a deputy governor in the central bank will today brief the House of Representatives on the cash withdrawal limit and the redesignation naira notes, explaining that he would not appear before the lawmakers in person for health reasons.

The apex bank also reviewed upward the amount that can be cashed over the counter through third party cheques to N100,000, but it remained silent on how much can be cashed through Point of Sale terminals (POS) and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).

The CBN had earlier restricted cash withdrawals for individuals to N20,000 per day, making a cumulative of N100,000 per week, and N500,000 for corporates. It also limited over-the-counter cash payment of third-party cheques to N50,000.

The policy, which is to take effect from January 9, 2023, also restricts how much customers can withdraw from their accounts through POS operators or ATMs to N20,000 per day.

The new circular dated December 21, 2022, however, did not review the withdrawals through ATMs and POS.

The latest circular issued to all deposit money banks, other financial institutions, banking agents as well as mobile money operators, and signed by the CBN director of banking supervision, Haruna Mustafa, said: “Following our circular BSD/DIR/PUB/LAB/015/069 dated December 6, 2022, on the above subject and based on feedback received from stakeholders, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) hereby makes the following reviews:

“The maximum weekly limit for cash withdrawal across all channels by individuals and corporate organisations shall be N500,000 and N5 million respectively. In compelling circumstances where cash withdrawal above the limits is required for legitimate purposes, such requests shall be subject to a processing fee of three per cent and five per cent for individuals and corporate organizations, respectively.”

In other to be able to exceed the limit, the apex bank said financial institutions are to “obtain the following information from the customer, at the minimum, and upload same on the CBN portal created for the purpose: Valid means of identification of the payee (National ID, International Passport, or Driver’s Licence), Bank Verification Number (BVN) of the payee, Tax Identification Number (TIN) of both the payee and the payer and approval in writing by the MD/CEO of the financial institution authorising the withdrawal.

It went on: “Third party cheques above N100,000 shall not be eligible for payment over the counter, while the extant limit of N10 million on clearing cheques still subsist.”

The circular also noted that banks are to render monthly returns on cash withdrawal transactions above the specified limits to the Banking Supervision, Other Financial Institutions Supervision and Payments System Management Departments as applicable.

They are also expected to comply with extant AML/CFT regulations relating to KYC, ongoing customer due diligence, currency and suspicious transaction reporting etc., is mandatory in all circumstances.

“Customers should be encouraged to use alternative channels (internet banking, mobile banking apps, USSD, cards/POS, eNaira, etc.) to conduct their banking transactions.

The CBN identified bank and mobile money agents as important participants in the financial system, as they will enable access to financial services in underserved and rural communities.

“They will continue to perform these strategic functions, in line with existing regulations governing their activities.

“The CBN recognises the vital role that cash plays in supporting underserved and rural communities and will ensure an inclusive approach as it implements the transition to a more cash-less society. All banks and OFIs are to note that aiding and abetting the circumvention of this policy will attract severe sanctions,” it added.

I’m attendinding To Health Challenges, Emefiele Tells Reps

Meanwhile, speaker of the House of Representatives,  Femi Gbajabiamila, who read a letter from the CBN governor yesterday, said Emefiele would not appear before the lawmakers in person for health reasons.

According to Gbajabiamila, Emefiele said he was attending to  a health challenge and  that he would delegate the responsibility to a deputy.

Emefiele was to brief them lawmakers on the new cash withdrawal limit and redesign of the Naira.

The CBN governor also said he was also still in the United States for an official engagement.

He was initially billed to appear before the House on December 15 to brief the lawmakers.

He had failed to show up, citing official engagement outside the country with the president.

The House directed the Clerk to write another letter inviting him to brief the House on Tuesday, December 20.

The House then resolved to re-invite the CBN governor to appear to brief the House unfailingly by 10am on Thursday, December 22.

Gbajabiamila, who read the letter thus, “We  refer to your letter of December 20, 2022 on the above subjects, inviting the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to appear in person before the House on Thursday, December 22.

“Regrettably the governor is out of the country on official engagement as well as attending to some health challenges. He is therefore unavailable to attend this briefing.

“Given the urgency associated with the briefing, the Committee of Governors, led by Mrs Aisha Ahmed, deputy governor, Financial Systems Stability, is prepared to brief the House.”

This led to some disagreements by some lawmakers who insisted that the governor appear in person.

But some others, including the Speaker, said it was alright if Emefiele was represented.

Gbajabiamila said, “At this stage, we have to rise above certain things and not make it personal any more in the sense that there is a very critical issue, which is the issue of the new cash policy. If the governor has said he is out of the country and in good faith is attending to health conditions, if that is the case, would it serve this House to continue to insist on his physical appearance?

“Two, would it serve the interest of the country to say we would wait till whenever he comes back in January, because a lot would have happened between now and then. But if he has asked somebody who is fully equipped with all the facts, who can be questioned by the House, who is the deputy governor, Financial Systems Stability, which is what this is about, and who is coming with the Committee of Governors, I think the point has been made. Let’s hear from her. Because if we hear from her, we are hearing from the governor.”

The CBN had stated that the policy on revised cash withdrawal limits was in line with its cashless policy. Ultimately, the plan is to encourage more Nigerians to use alternative channels to carry out their banking transactions.

The restriction order by CBN attracted condemnation from across board, with Lagos-based rights lawyer, Femi Falana, and Point of Sale (POS) operators instituting a case in court against the monetary policy.

Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila also met with President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday to discuss the new cash withdrawal limits as well as the rising cases of violent attacks at political rallies.

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