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Finance minister kicks against plan, says ministry not consulted

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Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmedhas kicked against plans by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to redesign some naira notes.

She said the ministry was not aware of the plans and only knew about it through the media.

She said this on Friday when she appeared before the Senate Committee on Finance for the ministry’s budget defense session.

Her comments come barely 48 hours after the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, announced the plan to redesign the 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 notes and will go into circulation in December.

The plan is to redesign N100, N200, N500, and N1000 and start disbursing by December and by January 31, 2023, the old notes are expected to be out of circulation.

He said the move is aimed at having control of the currency in circulation, managing inflation, and tackling counterfeiting.

Mr Emefiele had said currency management has faced several daunting challenges that have continued to escalate in scale and sophistication with attendant and unintended consequences for the integrity of both the CBN and the country.

The CBN boss further explained that the planned redesign was in line with Sections 19 (a) and (b)of the CBN Act 2007, upon which the management of the CBN sought and obtained the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari to redesign, produce, and circulate new series of banknotes at N200, N500, and N1,000 levels.

I wasn’t consulted – Finance Minister

But while responding to a question from a member of the committee, Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti) on proposed plans, Mrs Ahmed said the planned redesign of some naira notes bears some consequences.

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Mr Bamidele had noted that two days after the announcement, the exchange of Naira to a US dollar has risen from N740 to N788 to a US dollar – due to rush in trade of stacked naira notes for foreign currencies, particularly the dollar .

“The policy may be a well conceived one but the timing going, by realities on ground, it’s very wrong as the naira may fall to as low as N1,000 to a US dollar before January 31, 2023 fixed for full implementation of the policy ,” he said.

The finance minister said she and her ministry’s officials were not aware of the policy but only learned of it from the media.

“We were not consulted at the Ministry of Finance by the CBN on the planned naira redesigning and cannot comment on it as regards merits or otherwise,” she said.

“As a Nigerian privileged to be at the top of Nigeria’s fiscal management, the policy, as rolled out at this time, bears serious consequences on the value of Naira to other foreign currencies,” she said.

Mrs Ahmed appealed to the committee to invite the CBN governor for required explanations as regards merits of the planned policy and rightness or otherwise of its implementation now.

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