Christmas shoppers condemn naira scarcity, ATMs dry up - LagosTrend

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Sunday, December 17, 2023

Christmas shoppers condemn naira scarcity, ATMs dry up


About a week to Christmas Day, shoppers have condemned the worsening naira scarcity, with many of them expressing frustration over their inability to make vital purchases for the Yuletide celebration.

Findings by The LAGOSTREND on Sunday revealed that banks were still rationing cash over-the-counter, while several Automated Teller Machines visited did not dispense cash.

Our correspondents who visited ATM galleries in Lagos, Abuja, Osogbo, Makurdi, Sokoto, Edo, and Gusau, among others, observed that many of the machines had run out of cash.

On Friday, many bank customers could not get access to cash OTC in many baking halls across the country.

This was despite assurances from the banking regulator, the Central Bank of Nigeria, that more cash had been released for economic activities.

Meanwhile, The LAGOSTREND checks over the weekend showed that many poultry sellers and local stores were insisting on cash as a means of payment for their goods.

A roadside trader in Abule Egba, Lagos, who simply identified herself as Mama Sule, told one of our correspondents that “many customers who want to buy onions are saying they don’t have cash. I don’t have a bank account, so I can’t accept transfers; sadly, It is affecting my business.”

Also, another trader in Olowoira, Lagos, said, “I am still insisting on cash for payment because I have experienced failed transactions before. If you have cash, I will sell to you.”

A Christmas shopper, Remi Arowolo, said, “I was traveling from Abeokuta to Lagos, I saw cheap tomatoes on the road and when I stopped to buy, they said they could not accept transfer from me; they insisted on cash. I wanted to buy them in large quantities ahead of Christmas, but I could not buy them.”

Also, a Point of Sale operator in the Mokola area of Ibadan, Oyo State, who simply identified himself as James, said, “I cannot get enough cash for my business; my business is suffering. I am not making a profit and Christmas is near, no money to spend this Christmas. It is sad.”

However, some sources in the bank who would not want to be named, said the banks could only give out cash if they had.

A top bank official of one of the commercial banks said, “We are still rationing cash to customers, but if the cash supply increases, we will give out. We don’t have enough even for our ATMs. Maybe if the CBN released more cash, we should have more.”

When our correspondent visited some ATMs in Abuja on Sunday, none of them was dispensing cash to customers.

The ATM galleries belonging to GTBank, Zenith Bank, Stanbic IBTC and UBA located along Airport Road did not dispense over the weekend, although security officers at the facilities said the cash had been withdrawn by some customers.

 statement by its acting Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mrs Hakama Sidi-Ali, said, “There is indeed an increase in currency in circulation. From N1tn in February 2023, we have seen a rise to over N3.4tn as of December 11, 2023. This demonstrates that enough cash is available, but unfortunately, it’s not circulating due to apprehension among some individuals.”

States lament

Naira scarcity has hit Makurdi, Benue State capital and environs as queues surfaced at the ATM gallery since Saturday.

Consequently, banks have limited the amount customers can withdraw.

A Point of Sale man, who simply identified himself as Julius, told our correspondent on Sunday, “I went to the bank yesterday, (Saturday) to withdraw money, but there was a long queue and the highest amount you can withdraw at FirstBank if it is your bank was N40,000 with your ATM.

“But if it is a different ATM, the highest amount customers could withdraw was N20,000.00.”

As a result of that, Julius said that the commission charged by POS had doubled since Saturday.

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