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New Note Crisis: CBN May Print Naira Abroad To Ease Cash Crunch



The Central Bank of Nigeria may bow to mounting pressure and contract the printing of the redesigned N1,000, N500 and N200 notes to foreign contractors in the coming days in order to boost the circulation of the currency.

Saturday PUNCH gathered that this had become imperative as sources said the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc, which had been responsible for the printing of the naira, appeared to lack the capacity to meet the demand for the new notes.

This is as the National Council of State advised the apex bank to print more naira notes or re-circulate the old notes, which it had mopped up from circulation, in order to ease the pressure on hapless Nigerians, who had been suffering from the scarcity of the new notes.

A top banker told PUNCH on Friday that information available to him indicated that the Mint had succeeded in printing N500bn worth of the new N1,000, N500 and N200 notes and might not have the capacity to do more than that at the moment.

The top banker, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject and because he had not been authorised to speak officially on it, said, “It is obvious that what has been printed is not enough. How can you withdraw about N2.1tn from circulation and only print N500bn to replace that?

“Is it not obvious that the NSPMC does not have the capacity to print more than N500bn? With the Mint’s current capacity, to print N2tn will take about a year. Even the N500bn printed has been hijacked by politicians, especially governors. You heard one governor saying one of his colleagues was able to withdraw N500m.

“What the CBN is doing is to give us only 10 per cent of the worth of the old notes we deposit with it. For instance, if a bank takes N1bn to the CBN branch office in its area of operation, it will be given N100m new notes to distribute to its branches nationwide and load onto its ATMs.”

A former top official of the CBN, who spoke to Saturday PUNCH anonymously, echoed a similar sentiment that the Mint might not have the capacity to print more naira notes and that could be responsible for the scarcity of the notes.

The ex-CBN official said, “I think it is a matter of capacity on the part of the Mint.

The NSPMC has been solely responsible for the printing of the local currency and its role wasn’t an issue before now because it periodically printed notes, which the CBN released into the system along with those already in circulation. Only mutilated notes were withdrawn by the apex bank and destroyed.

“As it is now, the CBN may have little or no choice but to contract the printing of the new N1,000, N500 and N200 notes to foreign contractors in order to make the new notes go round the country quickly and save the nation the embarrassment caused by the current scarcity and its attendant consequences.”

Efforts to get a response from the CBN through its Director of Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi, were futile as calls made to his mobile telephone did not connect, while he had yet to respond to WhatsApp messages sent to him.

However, an official of the CBN, who pleaded that his identity should be concealed, said there was no problem with the supply of the new notes by the NSPMC, adding that it was a deliberate policy to print limited amounts in order to encourage Nigerians to embrace other means of transaction other than cash.

“We don’t have an issue with what the Mint is doing regarding the printing of the new naira notes. There is no problem with the mint’s capacity. The fund it has expended so far on the printing of the new N1,000, N500 and N200 notes is its budget for the fourth quarter of last year.”

When a telephone number listed on the website of the NSPMC was called on Friday, it rang out. A message sent to the same number had not been replied as of the time of filing this report.

Punch Report