Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cash-lite Policy: Churches move to curtail the volume of Bank-bound cash

TO reduce the volume of cash collections, some religious organisations, including churches, may have embarked on a sensitisation programme that would encourage members fulfill their financial obligations to God through means other than cash.

This is in compliance with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Cash-lite policy already being implemented in Lagos and environs.

The move is expected to help the affected religious organisations, especially those with centralised accounting system, avoid “penalty charges” on funds in excess of the N1m daily deposit and withdrawal benchmark for corporate organisations, including churches.

The policy also stipulates a new maximum daily deposit and withdrawal limits of N150,000 for individuals.

But the CBN yesterday dissociated itself from banks allegedly implementing the deposit/withdrawal limits, re-ietrating its earlier position that the stipulated “penalty charge” of N100 for every N1000 in excess of the daily benchmark, must not be applied until March 30.

Mr. Mohammed Abdullahi, spokesman of the apex bank, noted that, although no customer had reported any case of being charged, any bank implementing the policy before March 30, 2012 would be doing so illegally.

“Nobody has ever reported to us that he or she has been charged by any bank. But we have said that this thing has been suspended until March 30; so, any bank doing that is doing it illegally,” Abdullahi told The Guardian on telephone.

Religious sources say, with the N1m benchmark for corporate bodies, it has become increasingly difficult to remit cash accruing from tithes, offerings, and other collections to designated bank accounts, as some branches of banks are already applying penalties to deposits and withdrawals in excess of 150,000 and N1 million as the case may be.

They also expressed discomfort on the penalty applied to the excess deposits, as the funds are meant for the use of the church.

A source hinted that, as a way out, leaders of some of the religious groups may be exploring the possibility of acquiring Point of Sale (PoS) machines for payment of tithes and offerings, while others have asked their members to consider making payments in cheques and bank drafts to reduce the volume of bank-bound cash.

Specifically, a leader in a Lagos Church requested that members, who have current accounts,should pay tithes with cheque.

“We will prefer Manager’s Cheque so that it would be easy for us to manage,” the leader announced after a church service.

Although the Lagos pilot project, which started in January, has a “window” period of three months, there has been what many refer to as miscarriage, by some bank branches, of the information handed down by their headquarters relating to full implementation of the deposit and withdrawal aspect of the cash-lite policy in Lagos.

While the some banks claim they are yet to start applying charges on excess deposits and withdrawals, some of their branches insist on the daily limits and apply the penalties as “appropriate.”

Source: The Guardian

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