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All tiers of govt to go cashless from March

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Federal government yesterday served a notice to the three tiers of government that all payments from the public treasury beyond the threshold approved for daily cash limit by the Central Bank of Nigeria must be done electronically with effect from March 1, 2023.

In effect, the Nigerian Financial and Intelligence Unit (NFIU), which made the announcement, warned that anyone who flouts the new guideline would be charged in accordance with relevant instruments on money laundering and corruption operating in the country.

However, Director of NFIU and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Modibbo Hamman Tukur, who made the pronouncements at a briefing in Abuja, warned that with the publication of the new guidelines, cash withdrawals from public accounts had been prohibited by the requirement of the laws under reference, while the payment of estacodes and overseas allowances to civil and public servants in cash had also been outlawed.

NFIU boss also warned that any public office at the federal, state and local government levels, who flout the new cash policy, would face the full weight of the law, irrespective of his or her position.

According to NFIU, “It is hereby stated clearly that any individual or corporate body who violates the provisions of these guidelines is in direct contravention of provisions of Section 2 of MLPPA, 2022, Section 13 of MLPPA, 2022, NFIU Act, 2018 and Section 26 of POCA, 2022, and their attendant principles and interpretations and will be liable to necessary prosecution and penalties from the effective said date. Cash withdrawals from public accounts would be treated as a money laundering offence.

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“Also, it is hereby provided that any public officer or any citizen who comes into contact with the provisions of these Guidelines with its attendant principles shall as a matter of obligation promote the implementation and success of the guidelines.

“The effective date for the enforcement and/or implementation of this guideline by all public authorities, institutions and organisations in the financial sector, financial institutions and designated non-financial institutions is March 1, 2023.”

NFIU, however, gave one condition under which a public officer might be allowed to withdraw more cash than is allowed under the law, saying only the Presidency could provide such a window.

According to Tukur, the waiver to withdraw more daily cash than approved by the CBN, can be granted by the Presidency, based on exigency.

He explained: “There is nothing in these guidelines to suggest or indicate there is reason to compel or warrant a public official at federal, state and local government to go to a financial institution to withdraw cash. In the unlikely event that a public official feels he may need cash withdrawal, he may apply for approval for a waiver from the Presidency which may be granted on a case-by-case basis.

“Under no circumstance, shall any category of public officers be given a standing or continuous waiver to withdraw cash from any public account in any financial institution or designated non-financial institution.

“The application of these guidelines includes all foreign missions operating in Nigeria, accounts of all development partner institutions, and the accounts of all instituted funds in form of independent funds to be operated as mutual funds such as insurance funds, cooperative funds, brokerages funds, political party funds or pressure group/union funds, once the funds are designated to exist as funds or to operate independently for management and/or investment.

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“By these guidelines, the local government’s N500,000 cash withdrawal limit with regards to public accounts and instituted funds are hereby discontinued. These guidelines supersede and repeal the N500,000 cash withdrawal limit of local government funds and also, since it is for criminal purposes, supersedes the CBN’s regulation on cash withdrawal limit with regards to public accounts and instituted funds”.

The NFIU explained that the application of the new measures became necessary to enable Nigeria to comply with the Enforcement, Guidelines and Policies for the Mitigation of Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, Proliferation of Weapons and Prevention of Predicate Crimes.

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