We knew nothing about naira redesign, says Finance Minister

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, has stated she knew nothing about the recent decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) to redesign some naira notes.

She spoke barely 48 hours after CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele announced that the redesigned notes would become official legal tenders by December 15, 2022.

The Minister, who commented on the policy in response to a question by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC – Ekiti Central) during 2023 budget defence session with the Senate Committee on Finance, warned the CBN of consequences that may arise from it.

Bamidele, had in his question, told the Finance Minister that barely two days after CBN announced the policy, repercussion of it on the value of Naira to US dollar was being felt.

“Just two days after the announcement of the policy, the value of the Naira to a US dollar has risen from N740 to N788 to a US dollar due to rush in exchange of stashed Naira notes for foreign currencies, particularly the U.S. dollar.

“To me, the policy may be a well conceived one, but the timing going by the realities on ground, is 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.

Surprisingly, the Minister in her response said she and her Ministry, were not aware of the policy but only heard about it from the media.

“Distinguished Senators, we were not consulted at the Ministry of Finance by CBN on the planned Naira redesigning and cannot comment on it as regards merits or otherwise.

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

“I will however appeal to this committee to invite the CBN Governor for required explanations as regards merits of the planned policy and rightness or otherwise of its implementation now,” she said.

Emefiele on Wednesday said that the apex bank would redesign the N200, N500 and N1,000 following the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said that the action was taken to take control of the currency in circulation, pointing out the bulk of the nation’s currency notes were outside banking operations.

The planned policy he added, was in line with Sections 19, subsections 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 notes.

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