Nigerians have criticized the “redesign” of the country’s local currency, proposed by the central bank to curb counterfeiting and the hoarding of large sums outside the EU. banking system.
Unveiling the redesigned 200, 500 and 1,000 naira notes on Wednesday, President Muhammadu Buhari said that “the new Naira notes are reinforced with security features that make them difficult to counterfeit.”
The new banknotes are very similar to those currently in circulation. The design of the highest denomination 1,000 naira note, including the national coat of arms and the headquarters of the Central Bank of Nigeria, has remained largely unchanged. The only significant difference is the color – it’s gone from a mostly brown underprint to blue.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says the redesigned banknotes will replace those currently in circulation by January 2023.
But many locals are unimpressed, describing the supposedly redesigned banknotes as merely a color revamp given their similarities to the old banknotes.
“Snapchat filter, waste of time and resources, so an entire CBN cannot employ experts to redesign the naira notes. This is a facelift, not a redesign,” says a Nigerian tweeted.
“What a waste of time and resources…what’s the difference?” another interrogated.
CNN has asked CBN for comment.
Leading economist Bismarck Rewane tells CNN that changing the coin’s appearance adds nothing to its value and is insignificant in deterring counterfeiting.
The government says new security features have been added to the new banknotes, but Rewane says the currency changes are not significant enough to prevent counterfeiting.
The value of the Nigerian naira has been on the decline in recent years, falling to a record low on the black market where it traded close to 800 per US dollar as of Friday.
“It doesn’t change anything,” Rewane says of the naira redesign. “It doesn’t increase the value,” he also says, adding, “There was no redesign. The color of the currency has changed, that’s all. The change is not significant enough to stop counterfeiting.”
According to the CBN’s annual report last year, 1000 and 500 naira denominations are the most counterfeited in Nigeria.
News of the naira redesign – first announced last month – sparked mixed feelings among Nigerians, some of whom question the cost of printing new banknotes at a time when the country struggles with dwindling oil revenues, the main source of income.
Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele expects the introduction of the new banknotes to help control inflation, which recently rose to its highest level in 17 years, and also fight corruption.
These goals, says Rewane, may not be achieved.
“It’s just a change of color. I don’t see the correlation between the color of the currency and the desired goals. If the goal is to reduce inflation, it will not achieve that. [Changing the look of the currency] has no macroeconomic impact whatsoever,” he told CNN.
At the unveiling of the new banknotes on Wednesday, President Buhari said yes almost 20 years since the country undertook a major redesign of its banknotes.
The Nigerian leader added that replacing the current currency with the redesigned banknotes will help curb the hoarding of money outside the banking system.
“It is on this basis that I have given my approval for the redesign of the 200, 500 and 1,000 notes,” he said..
Old naira notes will be completely phased out by the end of January next year, the CBN says, as locals scramble to deposit their old notes in commercial banks.