Nigeria’s prevailing economic recession has forced the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to suspend printing of small naira denominations for about a year, leading to the scarcity of the notes in the economy, sources at the apex bank have disclosed.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), citing sources at the CBN, reports that for a year now, the apex bank did not award contract for the printing of the notes such as N5, N10, N20 and N50 usually done abroad.
According to NAN, the recently printed notes in circulation, including N200, N500 and N1,000, were produced by the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting (NSPM) Plc.
Sources attribute the high cost of printing banknotes as the reason the apex bank did not award contracts for their production.
“The cost of printing N50 is almost the same as N1,000 but printing small denominations costs more than the value and with the present economic situation, it makes sense to print higher notes, which can be done locally by NSPM,” a source said.
Confirming the scarcity of the small naira denominations in the country, a worker at the First Bank Plc said that there were hardly smaller currency notes to give to customers throughout the 2016 festive seasons.
“We usually request for cash from the CBN through our Cash Management Centre, but recently, we have not been able to get mints of N100 and below. We had N50 at one point but it wasn’t in the quantity we are used to getting.
“We have been telling our customers who call to request for mints that the smallest note they can get is N200,” the bank employee, who pleaded anonimity said.
But the CBN has denied the allegation that it had not contracted the printing of smaller denomination currencies since 2015.
The CBN Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, dismissed reports of scarcity of smaller denominations in the market.
He said people are complaining because the CBN did not make provision for mints to be supplied in smaller denominations during the festive season.
“You see, people are fond of abusing these denominations by spraying them to be stepped on during weddings and other ceremonies. The abuse is even worse during the festive season, so we decided to make scarce the denominations. But it’s not that we have not been printing them. Yes, we haven’t printed abroad but we also print locally, which we have been doing,” he said.