By Ignatius Okorocha
Apparently unhappy with the way and manner the nation’s lower currency is fast disappearing from circulation, Senate yesterday mandated its committee on banking, insurance and other financial institutions to investigate the circumstances leading to its scarcity.
The lower denominations in short supply are N5, N10, N20, N50, N100 and N200.
The red chamber said the scarce denominations are critical to the economic development of the country essentially as it just exited from recession.
This resolution followed the adoption of a motion on “Scarcity of lower denomination currency notes,” sponsored by Senator Peter Nwaobosi.
In his presentation, Nwaobosi said that most commercial banks in the country no longer circulate the lower denominations because the central bank of Nigeria, CBN, has ceased to supply them.
The lawmaker noted with concern that for the past one year, the CBN did not award contract for the printing of the lower currency notes.
He further said, ‘the lower denominations were printed and procured outside the country with the attendant economic and security implications’.
According to him, CBN was asked to introduce the coins as an alternative to the lower notes for it was said to be more sustainable and have longer span of life than currency notes.
Contributing, Senators Magnus Abe, Samuel Anyanwu and Albert Bassey Akpan supported the motion.
In another development, the upper chamber also urged the federal government to ban the importation of palm oil and palm kernel and fund the ministry of agriculture to boost large scale production of the cash crop.
It mandated its committee on agriculture and rural development to summon the Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) to explain why it could not deliver on its mandate.
These resolutions were reached following an adopted motion titled, ‘Urgent need to halt the importation of palm oil and its allied products to protect the palm oil/kernel industry in Nigeria’ sponsored by Senator Francis Alimikhena.
Alimikhena, in his presentation averred that the unregulated importation of palm kernel and allied palm products into the country was a threat to the on-going campaign for the diversification of the economy through agricultural production and export.
He said, ‘developing the oil palm industry is one of the ways that Nigeria can reduce poverty and create mass employment’.
The lawmaker, therefore, dismissed the huge importation of 450,000 tons of palm oil in 2017 at the cost of N116.3 billion as economically unreasonable.
He urged the federal government to reverse the trend with investments in the local palm industry meant to protect the local producers from unnecessary imports.