Anxiety as New Cash Withdrawal Limits Begin Today
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The new cash withdrawal limits introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last year have become effective today, Monday, January 9, 2023.
The apex bank first pegged the highest amount of cash a customer can withdraw in a week through over-the-counter (OTC), Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), and Point of Sale (POS) terminals at N100,000 for individuals and N500,000 for corporate organisations.
However, after several criticisms from Nigerians, the bank reviewed the policy and raised the weekly withdrawal for individuals to N500,000 and corporate organisations to N5 million.
The policy was introduced after the CBN redesigned the N200, N500, and N1,000 notes last year due to a high volume of cash in the hands of powerful persons, criminals, especially kidnappers, and others.
In order to control the cash in circulation, the central bank introduced withdrawal limits, directing commercial banks and others to ensure strict checks for cash payments above the limits.
In the circular issued to banks operating in the country, the apex bank said customers would be subjected to a 3 per cent processing fee for withdrawals above the threshold for individuals and 5 per cent for corporate entities.
These processing fees were also reviewed downward by the central bank, as the initial fees were 5 per cent for personal customers and 10 per cent for companies.
A quick check on a few commercial banks in Lagos indicated that the policy is now effective, and customers are trying to adjust to the new system as the highest denomination to be dispensed via the ATMs is N200, as directed by the central bank.
The CBN was hailed and criticised for the new policy because of its timing.
Nigerians head to the polls next month to elect a new president and members of the National Assembly. In March, it will be the governorship and state houses of assembly elections.
Vote-buying has become one tool politicians have devised to prosecute elections lately because of the high level of poverty in the country.
While politicians believe that this new cash withdrawal policy of the CBN is targeted at them after the governor of the bank, Mr Godwin Emefiele, failed in his bid to contest in the 2023 general elections, some Nigerians are of the view that it would reduce vote-buying this year and sanitise the electoral process.