The Senate has mandated its Committees on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, and Finance to investigate the scarcity of lower denomination currency notes with a view to proffering lasting solution on the matter and report back within two weeks.
Following a motion, “Scarcity of Lower Denomination Currency Notes” by Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP Delta North), the Upper House noted with serious concern, protracted scarcity of lower Naira denominations in the country.
Senator Nwaoboshi, while leading debate on the motion, said that “scarcity of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 Naira 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”.
While noting 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”, he warned that if the situation is not remedied urgently, it may lead to total collapse of the economy.
According to him, banks in Nigeria no longer dispense lower Naira denominations with the excuse that they hardly receive them from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, pointing out that “all developed countries operate with coins, a developing country like Nigeria is not, even when there are glaring disadvantages from the absence of coins for routine transactions in the country”.
Senator Nwaoboshi, who quoted media reports on the issue, was worried that the lower denominations are printed and procured outside the country with the attendant economic and security implications.
In his contribution, Senator Albert Bassey Akpan (PDP Akwa Ibom North East) said the CBN was saddled with the responsibility of printing new currency notes to the Nigerian public, but noted that “hardly will anybody see new currencies in the country recently.
He added that the scarcity of lower denomination had been affecting business mostly small scale entrepreneurs and stressed the need to protect the nation’s legal tender and the economy generally.
Also, Senator Sam Anyanwu (PDP Imo East) lamented that the scarcity of lower denominations like N5, N10, N20 and N50 in the country was causing pains to the people in the rural areas and called on the National Assembly to intervene in rescuing the situation.
The deputy senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at the plenary, said the CBN needed to concentrate on the printing of lower denominations as a more sustainable measure of exchange and business transaction in the country.
He pointed out that developed countries focused more on lower denominations than the higher ones, citing example of the United Kingdom where the highest currency in circulation most of the time is 50 pounds.