No amount of opposition by Nigerians will make the FG change its stance, the minister says.
The Federal Government said on Tuesday that there is no going back on the introduction of N5, 000 notes to the economy.
The Government’s position was made known by the Minister of National Planning, Shamsudeen Usman, at the end of the meeting of the Economic Management Team (EMT) in Abuja.
The meeting, presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, endorsed the proposal by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to introduce the new note, and the conversion of the N5, N10 and N20 notes into coins.
According to Mr. Usman, since the constitutional requirement is for the President to approve, having received that approval, there is nothing else to do than to go ahead with the policy.
“The endorsement of the proposal was top on the agenda for discussion during the meeting. With the President’s approval, which is the only requirement by law, there is no going back on the policy,” he said.
“The CBN is to propose, and Mr. President is to approve. And since Mr. President has approved, really what is important is to just explain,” he added.
I had reservations
In what appears to show the lack of clarity of the motive for the currency restructuring, Mr. Usman said even he had concerns with the CBN’s actions.
“I personally had some concerns about the coins, but since some discussions with the CBN Governor, he has actually clarified that even the media didn’t get it well,” he said.
The minister said when introduced, the proposed N5, 000 notes, like the 5000 Euros, would not be for normal circulation. He said it would be reserved specifically for banks and few other heavy cash users. He said the introduction of the N5000 notes would neither lead to inflation, nor encourage corruption as argued by those opposed to it.
When introduced early next year, the minister also said the new coins would run concurrently with the notes to test their acceptability by the public. He debunked claims that the introduction of the N5000 notes was at variance with the cashless economy policy. He also said the notes would not lead to corruption.
“A 100 dollar bill is N16, 000, while N5000 note will amount to 30 dollars. So, which one is bigger to carry if one is doing corruption?
“So, I do not think it (is) necessarily going to increase the level of corruption. Those doing corruption will probably find that too small than 100 dollar bill, which is still bigger than the N5,000 note,’’ he said.
Economic team members’ support
Africa’s richest man and member of the economic team, Aliko Dangote, said the N5000 note would not cause inflation, but protect the economy.
He added that the cost of printing the notes and restructuring of the coins would not be different from the amount used in printing other notes.
The Managing Director of Access Bank, who is also a member of the team, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, said the legal tender and restructuring of currency are part of the normal functions of the Central Bank, adding that the introduction of the new notes is not strange and would not lead to higher inflation.
“It is unfortunate that some have misled people into thinking that it will lead into higher inflation,’’ Mr. Aig-Imoukhuede said.
Similarly, Chairman of IBTC Bank, Atedo Peterside, said the N5000 notes would reduce the cost of printing bills.
“If I were the CBN Governor, I will prefer to print N10, 000 notes. Last year, Nigeria spent N47 billion to print these small, small notes. If we were printing bigger denominations, we will print fewer number and you make a phenomenal savings.
The Governors of Adamawa and Anambra States – Murtala Nyako and Peter Obi- also spoke in support of the new monetary policy.