Dr Muda Yusuf, Founder, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprises (CPPE) says a further extension by six months is ideal for old naira notes to be phased out of circulation.
Yusuf said this on Sunday in Lagos while reacting to the 10-day extension to the Jan. 31 deadline to change old naira notes to new ones by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
BRANDPOWER reports that the extension was announced on Sunday by the CBN governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, in Daura, Katsina State.
According to Yusuf, the 10-day extension is grossly inadequate and can put N100 trillion component of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at risk.
He noted that two critical sectors were particularly vulnerable – trade and commerce; and agriculture.
He said the crippling of business transactions at the distributive trade end amid the currency swap crisis would not only undermine these sectors but would have a knock-on effect on manufacturing value chain and the services sectors.
“This is because whatever is produced has to be sold; the trading end of the chain has been greatly disrupted by this currency swap crisis.
“The trade sector contributes about 14 percent of GDP, and the agricultural sector contributes 25 percent; with most of the activities in the rural or informal sectors of the economy.
“These are the sectors that have been driving the resilience of the Nigerian economy amid numerous domestic and global headwinds.
“Any policy measure that would negatively disrupt these sectors should be avoided,” he said.
Yusuf added that for an economy that was tottering on the brink, the capacity to absorb shocks and disruptions such as a currency swap was severely constrained.
He noted that with 133 million Nigerians in poverty, inflicting additional hardship on the citizens would be unfair, insensitive and inconsiderate.
He stated that the vote buying argument was not compelling enough to justify the scale of pain, agony, trauma and economic disruptions foisted on Nigerians by this currency swap pandemonium.
He furthered that the argument that currency swap would enhance monetary policy effectiveness and curb inflation had no strong basis in economic theory.
Yusuf noted that the total money supply in the Nigerian economy as at December 2022 was N52 trillion; total currency was N2.6 trillion.
“Thus, cash as percentage of money supply was only 5 per cent, which implies that 95 per cent of money is still within the banking system.
“It is, therefore, a gross misrepresentation to give the impression that 85 per cent of money is outside the banking system.
“Given the size of the Nigerian economy, our large population of over 200 million people, the dominance of the rural economy, the huge informal sector, the literacy level, and the over 30 million Nigerians that are unbanked, a minimum of six months window ought to have been given for the currency swap exercise.
“The CPPE, therefore, calls for the urgent intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari to save millions of Nigerians from the anguish and pain of the current stampede of currency swap inflicted by an unrealistic timeline and glaring capacity gaps in the management of the process,” he said.