The Nigerian government says it is deeply worried over the difficulties citizens are facing over having access to the redesigned naira notes.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed made this known on Thursday, at the weekly ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team.
She called for calm and patience among citizens as the hitches they are facing are only temporary.
“Of course we are worried. We are not happy that citizens have to queue and struggle at bank automated teller machines (ATMs) to be able to get their cash but this is a temporary situation they are facing.
“Let me just give you an analogy; if you have a wound, for you to be able to heal that wound it needs to be dressed and sometimes when you go to the hospital, they put iodine on that wound, which is very painful but it’s necessary to do that for the injury to heal.
“So it’s not easy and the President is not happy that citizens are suffering but we are convinced that it is something that needs to be done at this time and also the Central Bank has been responsive in terms of providing some extension. Even after the closing date, it is not all over because people still have the opportunity as provided for in the Central bank’s Act, to take their old currencies to the Central bank for redemption,” she said.
The Finance Minister noted that the Central Bank’s redesigning policy has a positive side of mopping up a lot of currency within a short time, which was one of the objectives of the policy.
“The positive side of it is that a lot of currency has been mopped by this operation and it means it has achieved a good level of success. The only sore point is the pain it has caused the citizens, which is regrettable but is also very transient and temporary and the bank will continue to address it,” the Minister added.
She further disclosed that the Ministry of Finance has some level of supervisory role over the apex bank.
She said: “The Ministry of Finance is represented by the Permanent Secretary Finance on the Board of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) but the Board was not in place until about just a month ago when it was put back in place so that the Board is working now.
“So, the supervisory function allows us to be part of the CBN’s Board and the Monetary Policy Committee of the CBN. The CBN Act thus provides it with some level of independence but that independence is subject to the supervision of the Board of the bank so now there is a Board in place.”
Commenting on the performance of the Nigerian economy in general, the Minister noted that the challenges being faced are not peculiar to Nigeria; the entire global economy is in shock.
“The global economy is currently facing multiple shocks often described as a poly crisis. This has led to economic instability in many countries. The Russia-Ukraine War, economic slowdown in China, and the impact on global supply chains among others are causing currency depreciation and balance of payment pressures in emerging markets and developing economies,” she said.
Mrs. Ahmed said despite the challenges, the ministry has been able to achieve a lot from the 40 deliverables assigned to it by President Muhammadu Buhari.
She listed the achievements to include an increase in the non-oil revenue share of total federal government revenues from 30 to 73 percent; the introduction of the annual Finance Act and the launching of the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme.
“Revenues collected by the Federal Inland Revenue Service grew from N6 trillion in 2021 to N10.1 trillion in 2022,” she disclosed.