After a delayed plenary on Wednesday, the Senate asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to considerably adjust its recently announced cash withdrawal limits in response to the public outcry against the new policy.
The upper chamber, in its resolution, also asked its Committee on Banking and Finance to embark on aggressive oversight of the apex bank as it implements the policy and give periodic reports to the Senate.
The Senate’s resolution was reached after an exhaustive debate by the lawmakers who attended Wednesday’s plenary session.
Some lawmakers argued that the withdrawal threshold set by the CBN is unrealistic considering the economic situation in the country.
Some lawmakers faulted the CBN for not holding wide consultations on the policy before its announcement while some legislators argue that the policy will put Point of Sale (PoS) operators out of business.
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In addition, some lawmakers said the policy will adversely affect Nigerians in the informal sector, the unbanked, and those in rural communities.
On Tuesday, the Senate postponed its debate on the policy. However, Wednesday’s plenary session recorded a poor attendance of lawmakers. The plenary session also started later than usual on a day lawmakers had planned to debate the new CBN cash withdrawal policy.
The plenary started at 12:30 pm. Sessions typically begin by 11am.
The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, was nowhere to be seen between 11am and 12:30pm and no explanation was given.
The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege eventually showed up by 12:30pm and presided over plenary but also offered no explanation for the lateness in commencement of legislative proceedings.
An opposition lawmaker, Senator George Sekibo raised a Point of Order, expressing his annoyance at the late commencement of plenary but the Deputy Senate President did not offer an apology and instead ruled him out of order.
The CBN on Wednesday pegged maximum daily withdrawals via Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Point Of Sale (PoS) terminals at N20,000.
The CBN said the new policy is a sequel to the launch of the redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 notes by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 23, 2022.
It directed banks to ensure that weekly over-the-counter (OTC) cash withdrawals by individuals and corporate entities do not exceed N100,000 and N500,000, respectively.
The Senate, House of Representatives and legal luminaries like Femi Falana have since faulted the policy.