The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, on Friday, expressed reservations with the redesigning of some naira denominations by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The CBN on Wednesday announced that it would start circulating newly redesigned N100, N200, N500, and N1000 naira notes from December 15.
CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the move was to counter terrorism financing, and hoarding of banknotes by members of the public, with statistics showing that over 85 percent of monies in circulation were outside the vaults of commercial banks.
But Ahmed said her ministry was not consulted on the CBN move, warning that the new policy may have grave consequences on the value of the naira to other foreign currencies.
The minister spoke while responding to questions from members of the Senate Committee on Finance during the 2023 budget defence session.
Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti), had said that barely two days after the announcement of the policy by CBN, its effects on the value of the Naira to the US dollar were being felt.
He said, “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 the rush in exchange of starched naira notes for foreign currencies, particularly US dollar.
“To me, the policy may be a well-conceived one, but the timing, going by realities on the 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.”
Responding, the minister said she was not aware of the policy but only heard of 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 value of naira to other foreign currencies.