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COVID-19: CBN Suspends Cheque Clearing Indefinitely

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Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor

 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it has suspended the clearing of cheques indefinitely in view of the locked down in Lagos State, Abuja and Ogun State and the need to ensure hitch-free clearing and settlement activities.

CBN’s Director, Banking Services Department, Mr. Sam Okojere, disclosed this in a circular to banks and Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS).

He said: “Please recall that the first index case of COVlD-19 was recorded in Nigeria on 27″1 February 2020 and since that date, there has been some level of increase in the number of confirmed cases in the country.

“The President, through a nationwide broadcast yesterday, announced a locked down in Lagos and Ogun States and the Federal Capital Territory for two weeks in the interim, starting from 11:00 pm. of March 30, 2020, as a means of combating the spread of the virus and to ensure the safety of all Nigerians.

“In view of these recent developments and in furtherance to the bank’s effort to ensure hitch-free clearing and settlement activities, the Central Bank of Nigeria hereby suspend, until further notice, the clearing of cheques instruments in the Nigerian Clearing System starting from March 31, 2020.

“For the avoidance of doubt, no fresh cheque instrument will be allowed to pass through a clearing system on March 31, 2020. The only returned cheque would be treated on the said date.

“However, settlement activities for electronic instruments will continue to hold during this period of suspension. Please be guided accordingly.”

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Banks’ CEOs Hold Emergency Meeting Over BDCs’ Forex Ban 

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Bank Chief Executive Officers on Thursday, held an emergency meeting on how to ensure compliance with the new forex directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

After the meeting, they spoke during a webinar organised to give an update on the banks’ preparedness to be the main channel of forex distribution, following the recent discontinuity of forex supply to the BDC operators by the CBN.

The executives assured the public that banks would make forex available to customers in accordance with the CBN’s directives.

After the last Monetary Policy Committee meeting, the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had ordered all Deposit Money Banks to set up teller points at designated branches across the country to fulfil legitimate FX request for personal travel allowance, business travel allowance, tuition fees, medical payments and SMEs transactions, among others.

Speaking at the webinar, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe, said, “The banking industry as a whole was willing and ready to carry out this function. The banks have very strict compliance measures, in terms of verification and making sure that people who do apply are eligible.

“All Nigerian banks will be able to meet these requirements. If you look at all the branches nationwide, you will know that the banks have more than enough capacity to do this.”

He said if the banks saw any compliance issues, or people attempting to do things cunning, they would be reported to the CBN because the banks would ensure full compliance with the order.

The Group Chief Executive Officer, Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc, Mr Segun Agbaje, while speaking on the capacity of the banks to meet the customers demand, said, “It is not only the CBN that has the ability to fund the market; the banks also have the resources to meet the demand, and we have agreed collectively that it will start immediately.”

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NERC: Over 1m Electricity Consumers Have Received Prepaid Meters

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Labour Warns FG Against Electricity Tariff Hike 

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The Nigeria Labour Congress faulted plans to allegedly sell the Transmission Company of Nigeria, saying it will lead to an increase in electricity tariff.

The NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, said this in a statement titled, “This Kite will not Fly’’ on Friday.

Wabba explained that instead of allegedly planning to sell the transmission company, FG should focus on improving the electricity supply.

He described the attempt to hand over the TCN to a few ‘privileged’ Nigerians as self-serving, obtuse, odious, morally reprehensible and criminal.

The NLC president said, “The TCN is a strategic economic asset of immense national security implications. This is because the TCN traverses all nooks and crannies of Nigeria.

“It will be wrong that our country will be deliberately exposed to an avoidable vulnerability and thus, provide an opportunity to others to restrain the Nigerian state.

“We apprehend that the planned sale of the TCN is only an attempt to further confound the people and concurrently raise electricity tariff. Unfortunately, this time around, Nigerians have had enough.

“The government cannot promise improved power supply to consumers by the planned sale of TCN. The under-the-table scheming as transparent privatisation cannot pass muster.

“It is an unsavoury narrative for our country, that even the privatised assets, which have survived the rapacity of the new owners, have been turned into unrealisable collaterals for unpayable loans.

“This constitutes a bone stuck in the throat of financial institutions and sundry creditors.”

Wabba explained that the plan would “fundamentally weaken the security of the nation and above all, deprive the people of their age-old investments in the commanding heights of the Nigerian economy”.

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