Ogbonnaya Ikokwu, Umuahia
The Abia State Commisioner for Trade and Investment, Chief John Okiyi-Kalu has stated that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu is deeply worried about the effect of the new cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria and redesigning of naira notes, on traders in the state.
Speaking in Umuahia the State capital Okiyi, said the state government was looking at multiple ways to ease the negative effect of the policies on traders hence the governor that Abia State Board of Internal Revenue Service should immediately suspend collection of 2023 revenue from all markets in the state till June 2023.
According to him, “the Governor has visited many markets in the state since the cashless policy came into effect along with the scarcity of new currency notes as a result of the naira redesign, and observed that traders in the state are possibly the worst hit.
“Many of our traders are unable to transact with buyers as the policy implementers failed to capture their peculiar needs while rolling out the new policies.
“The traders are really bearing the brunt, and as a responsible government, we are looking at various options to support them. One of those options is what the Governor announced this afternoon during his visit to Good Morning market, Aba, that, henceforth, state and LGA revenue collections in the markets will be suspended for at least 6 months starting from January 2023.”
The Commisisoner called on banks in the state to immediately deploy a sufficient number of POS machines to all markets, superstores, and other trading centres in the state to enable buyers utilize their ATM cards for transactions.
He also called on the CBN to ensure that the new notes are made available to traders and citizens of the state in sufficient volume to avoid a breach of the peace and security that might result from the massive suffering occasioned by the new transaction regimes.
“We are not against the new cashless regime and redesigning of the naira notes by the federal government but the Governor is deeply worried about the effect on our hardworking traders as a result of the poor implementation strategy which failed to take into cognisance the peculiar needs of rural and urban traders.
Many rural traders are unbanked, and even if they wish to join the banking system, the branches are not even there, hence, they might have to travel several kilometers to neighbouring communities before they can carry out their transactions.
“Quite a number of them may also not have enough formal education to help them operate the POS machines, so the policy makers should have made provisions for their needs before rolling out. The immediate solution is to inject enough new naira notes into our rural economy through special intervention by the CBN to avert the looming socio-economic dislocation that might lead to anarchy”, he said.