OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja
The Senate has commenced investigation into why Nigerian banks no longer dispense lower naira denominations.
The Senate said if the situation was not remedied urgently, it may lead to total collapse of the economy.
It therefore mandated its Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions to carry out a holistic investigation into the matter, with a view to proffering lasting solution and report back within two weeks.
This followed a motion by Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP, Delta State) entitled, “Scarcity of Lower Denomination Currency Notes.”
According to him, “The Senate notes with serious concern the protracted scarcity of lower naira denominations. It is concerned that scarcity of N5, N10, N20, N50, N100 and N200 notes poses a severe threat to the economy of the nation which is just recovering from recession, as it is worsening inflationary trends, with attendant consequences.
“The Senate notes that the nation’s currency is highly essential and critical in national development; and if mismanaged, the economy is doomed with adverse effect on the people and the nation.
“The Senate is worried that banks in Nigeria no longer dispense lower naira denominations with the excuse that they hardly receive them from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“The Senate is worried also that reports in the media over the issue are not cheery at all.”
The senator stressed that the lower denominations were printed and procured outside the country with the attendant economic and security implications.
“The Senate notes further that if the situation is not remedied urgently, it may lead to total collapse of the economy,” Nwaoboshi stated.
Seconding the motion, Magnus Abe, stated that the lower denominations remained a legal tender in the country and decried their scarcity in the polity.
Abe warned that deliberate attempts by some forces to reject the lower denominations from effective circulation might make currency regulators to lose their control of the process.
“It becomes an indirect way of pushing up the prices of commodities,” he noted.
Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, however pointed out that the issue was not peculiar to Nigeria.