Starting New Year on a high note with CBN

By Sunny Igboanugo on 09/01/2020

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Emefiele

How much would Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele have given each Nigerian at New Year to to inspire hope, make  season worthwhile? Assuming, he had free access to the vault of the apex bank and brought out all the mint and distributed to all Nigerians, how much would each person get? Would it even go round?

But somehow, the CBN boss, has given virtually all Nigerians a present that is sure to touch every home and start the year 2020 on a high note. Many customers have already received alerts from their banks announcing the implementation of the CBN’s far-reaching measures, which they seem to find more rewarding and more enduring than money or even other attractive gifts.

The somewhat bumper package revealed on Sunday, December 22, exactly three days to the 2019 last year’s Christmas, included ordering commercial banks to end what some of their customer have interpreted as “stealing by tricks.”

The measures unfolded by Chibuzor Efeobi, Director Financial Policy and Regulation Department came with the slashing of the charges on Automated Teller Machine (ATM) charges after third withdrawal from N65 to N35 and abrogation of the highly vexatious “Card Maintenance Fee” on all cards linked to current accounts of customers.

Slated to take effect by January 1, 2020, the directive also asked commercial banks limited to a maximum of N1 per mille for customer induced debit transactions to third parties and transfers or lodgments to the customers’ account in other banks on current accounts only.

Tagged new Guide to Charges by Banks, other Financial and Non-Financial institutions, the CBN also pegged the Advance Payment Guarantee to a maximum of one per cent of the APG value in the first year and 0.5 per cent for subsequent years on contingent liabilities, while Advance Payment Guarantee (APG), is now pegged at a maximum of one per cent of the APG value in the first year and 0.5 per cent for subsequent years on contingent liabilities.

The new guide set debit card charge at a one-off charge of N1,000 for the issuance of cards, irrespective of card type regular or premium and another one-off charge of N1,000 on the replacement of debit cards at the customer’s instance for loss or damaged cards.

Upon expiry of existing cards, customers are to pay the same one-off charge of N1,000 irrespective of card type and no charge should be required for pre-paid card loading or unloading, while the current Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) Instant Payments (NIP) charges applied to use of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), purchase with cash-back would attract a charge of N100 per N20,000 subject to cumulative N60,000 daily withdrawal.

The guideline also said that maintenance fee for cards linked to savings account has been reduced to a maximum of N50 per quarter from N50 per month amounting to only N200 per annum instead of N600 and that there would be no more charges for reactivation or closure of accounts such as savings, current and domiciliary accounts while status enquiry at the request of the customer like confirmation letter, letter of non-indebtedness and reference letter would now attract a fee of N500 per request.

Spokesman of the apex bank, Isaac Okorafor, who stressed the raison d’etre for the measures, said, said infractions would attract serious penalties for defaulting banks, while explaining other aspects of the guideline.

He said: “On Current Account Maintenance Fee (CAMF), the guide expressly stated that this would be applicable only to current accounts in respect of customer-induced debit transactions to third parties and debit transfers and lodgments to the customer’s account in another bank. It emphasised that CAMF is not applicable to Savings Accounts.

“CBN carried out the review of the guide, which also prescribes charges permissible for Other Financial Institutions and non-bank financial institutions, in order to align with market developments.

“To guard against excess, unapproved or arbitrary charges by banks and other financial institutions, the guide stipulates a penalty of N2million per infraction or as may be determined by the CBN from time to time for financial institutions that breach any provision of the guide.

“The guide also emphasised that failure by any bank to comply with CBN’s directive in respect of any infraction shall attract a further penalty of N2million daily until the directive is complied with or as may be determined by the CBN from time to time.”

To ensure strict monitoring and compliance, Okorafor, Director of Public Communications, said that the CBN has directed banks to log every complaint received from their customers into the Consumer Complaints Management System (CCMS) in addition to generating a unique reference code for each complaint lodged, which must be given to the customer, adding that failure to log and provide the code to the customer will amount to a breach and is sanctionable with a penalty of N1million per breach.

To have taken such a step, must have been out of the apex bank’s constant harassment by the outcry of many Nigerians buffeted by the consistent and ingenuous tricks evolved by the commercial banks to gype Nigerians of their money. The cries have been as shrill as they are strident. They have come from the high mighty, big and small customers.

Imagine the relief that customers would no longer be provoked anymore by those wicked alerts that sound on the phone at the least expected times only for the victim to find those annoying debit signs instead of an anticipated credit. This has effectively put paid to that agony, which has got many Nigerians remonstrating and even cursing at their obvious helplessness.

It is indeed an understatement to infer that the CBN has relieved the headache of many, especially the struggling Nigerians for whom every kobo means so much at this time of immense hardship. Indeed, the bank has cured them of a pounding migraine.

For the man at the helm of affairs at the bank, he may take a deep breath of satisfaction because this is one step his countrymen are celebrating already.

Surely this outing would earn him some more high-fives from his supporters, who have remained upbeat that his management of the bank has brought in more goods than pains.

Of course, this seems to follow a particular trend in Emefiele’s CBN attempt to aim at the heart of his compatriots.

For instance, it is to the credit of the Emefiele CBN that the massive cultivation of rice has come to stay in the country through the Anchor Borrowers Programme. Without the initiative, many Nigerians would have completely deleted rice from their menu during the last Christmas, following the closure of the nation’s borders, which would have made the commodity so scarce that the prices of available ones would practically hit the roof.

Through the progamme, many rice farmers were said to have accessed soft loans from with which they expanded their operations, which filled gap created by the scarcity of foreign rice substantially.

As he announced in October last year, the bank is also moving to achieve the same landmark, by spending heavily through the ABP to revive the textile industry. A projection of N100billion has already been made for the project, which has already started with the cultivation of 200,000 hectares of hybrid cotton seeds to be distributed to 200,000 farmers in 26 states among other steps.

What about the N22billion the apex bank has also announced in collaboration with the Bankers Committee to support the Nigerian creative industry, part of which would be used to rehabilitate the National Theatre, Iganmu, once Nigeria’s pride, apart from supporting the music and movie industry.

It is certainly not Uhuru yet. Nigerians are still groaning under the yoke of monumental economic and social crisis. But with measures like this it is such a pleasing feeling that someone out there is listening. That equally counts.

Igboanugo, a journalist, wrote from Abuja 

 

Source Whirlwindnews.com

Posted on January, 9 2020

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