Real estate developers have picked holes in the cash withdrawal policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), saying the policy, if implemented, will lead to a rise in the price of housing units.

They also urged the Federal Government to have a quick rethink on the plan, which they said might make or mar government’s commitment to reduce the housing deficit.

Although the CBN, in a memo in November, had announced a cash withdrawal limit to be made by individuals and organisations with effect from 9 January, 2023, where they pegged individuals and corporate entities withdrawal limit on N100,000 and N500,000, respectively, per week, this has not gone down well with so many Nigerian public.

It also directed that the maximum cash withdrawal per week via ATM should be N100,000 subject to a maximum of N20,000 cash withdrawal per day.

Reacting to this while speaking to journalists at the weekend in Port Harcourt, a real estate developer, Richard Adebanjo, said such policy would make life unbearable for the over 36 million unbanked adults of Nigerian population.

Adebanjo, a member of the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), said it would be serious task for the unbanked persons, if the Central Bank goes ahead to implement such policy without having a rethink.

“The policy to pay processing fees will increase our cost of production, as business in real estate is garbage in, garbage out.

“If I have to go to the bank every day and they will charge me 10 per cent for my withdrawals and this happens for 30 days, it will definitely affect my selling price.

”Real estate construction involves direct labour and its workers are people who work on daily pay. So, you work with them and pay. So, imagine you have 20 houses under construction with not less than 10 labourers on each site. Even if you are paying them N3,000 per day, that will be N600,000 in total, how much are you expecting me to withdraw to pay them?

“Most of our construction is with direct labour and direct labour requires someone to work for you and you pay him there and then. Also, most of these bricklayers and labourers don’t even have a bank account. So, it is mind-boggling for us”, he explained.

On his part, an Estate Surveyor, Mr Bennett Akolam, called the Federal Government to review the policy , not only because of the developers, but for those in the rural areas who don’t even know what a bank is all about.

Akolam, an estate surveyor and valuer, noted that such moves would affect the labourers who are largely unbanked and rely on daily payments for work done.

He said, “Most of our workers are roadside people; we pick them along the way. So 80 to 85 per cent of the labourers don’t have bank accounts, so they depend on cash.

“Now, if I have up to 30 workers that I want to pay and each of them will receive at least N50,000, if we do the calculation, that is N180,000, but CBN tells me that I cannot only withdraw N100,000 per day”.

By: Corlins Walter