Senate yesterday commenced investigation into protracted non-availability of the lower Naira denominations.
The Upper Chamber said it has found that banks in the country no longer dispense lower Naira denominations with the excuse that they hardly receive them from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The lower Naira notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 are adversely scarce and has posed a severe threat to the economy.
But Senate maintained that the nation’s currency is highly essential and critical in national development and if mismanaged, the economy is doomed with adverse effect on the people and the nation.
Also, Senate noted that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has not printed the small naira denominations for about a year, causing the scarcity of the notes in the economy.
It equally noted for a year now, the apex bank did not award contract for the printing of notes such as N5, N10, N20 and N50 usually done abroad.
Consequently, Senate has mandated its Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions and Finance to quickly probe the matter with a view to proffering solution and report back within two weeks.
The resolution of the Senate followed a motion by Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta North). Tagged Scarcity of lower denomination currency notes, it seeks to evolve proactive measures to end the unavalability of the Naira denominations.
In his contribution, Senator Magnus Abe (APC-Rivers) said while the lower denomination continued to be part of our legal tender and unavailable, “it becomes an indirect way of pushing up the prices of commodities.”
“In this matter, we must be careful not place this country in such a position that the economy is no longer managed by those that we asked to manage it.When circumstances outside of our own dictates begin to determine the action that we take, then it means that we are not in control,” Abe said.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who presided over plenary said one of the issues affecting lower denominations was the haste in which higher denominations were introduced in Africa.
“It is not just a Nigerian thing. With the level of higher denominations, it affects the production and acceptance of the lower denominations.This is the area we need to look at. With this effort, the issue will be redressed,” Ekweremadu said.