Cash scarcity worsens despite CBN’s claim of N3.4trn in circulation

DESPITE withdrawal limits on cash policy enforced by most commercial banks,  the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said N3.4 trillion in cash was in circulation in the country.

The CBN’s acting director of Corporate Communications, Hakama Sidi-Ali, said this in a statement she issued in Abuja on Wednesday, December 13.

Sidi-Ali said: “There is indeed an increase in currency in circulation. From N1 trillion in February 2023, we have seen a rise to over N3.4 trillion as of December 11, 2023. This demonstrates that enough cash is available, but unfortunately, it’s not circulating due to apprehension among some individuals.”

“We empathise with the recent and past experiences of Nigerians. The CBN assures everyone that we have adequate cash to meet daily transaction needs, even during the upcoming festive season.”

She attributed the current cash crunch to some persons’ hoarding the naira due to challenges experienced during the naira redesign policy earlier in 2023.

She added that the CBN was monitoring the situation and had released sufficient cash to its branches nationwide for onward distribution to deposit money banks (DMBs).

Checks by The ICIR showed some point of sale (PoS) operators have resorted to sourcing cash from filling station pump attendants and market people as cash scarcity bites.



    “Most of the commercial banks don’t give us the requested amount. They don’t give more than N50,000 even when we need up to N1,000,000 for our transactions. I have negotiated with some fuel pump attendants to buy cash for my business,” said Emeka Ekwenugo, a PoS operator in Kubwa, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

    Another PoS operator, Bassey Bissong, in Dutse, Bwari Area Council of the FCT, told The ICIR that he had resorted to charging higher for his transactions since commercial banks were rationing cash to consumers.

    “I previously charged N200 for N10,000. Now I charge N400 for N10 000. For N20,000, I charge N700. We don’t get money easily. Sometimes, the automated teller machine (ATM) doesn’t pay you what you request. It’s a difficult time for us,” he said.

    On November 27, The ICIR reported that the CBN was mopping up currency through its recent open market operations to control inflation. This could be linked to the current cash scarcity across the country.

    Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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