You may have noticed in recent days that whenever you walk into a bank or use an ATM to withdraw cash, you are bombarded with dirty, smelly and mutilated bank notes. In fact some of the notes are so mutilated that you need tape or other adhesive material to fix them for use.
Several customers of the various commercial banks have been complaining of receiving the notes anytime they make transactions. It has also been creating chaos between commercial transport owners and passengers for example, as no one wants to collect or keep the dirty, tired notes.
A banker who requested for anonymity told The Chronicle that such notes have been supplied to his bank by the Central Bank of The Gambia. He said it has created a lot of confrontation between the bank staff and customers especially in the run up to the end of the Ramadan feast – Koriteh.
Have you been receiving these dirty bank notes? Do you think it is coincidence? Oh no it’s not. The Central Bank has admitted pumping them into the market in order to exhaust withdrawing them and bring in the new notes, the latest ones.
“The old family notes will run out of the stocks because we are not reprinting them. We have to allow them to continue going in circulation until such a time that we introduce the new family,” the Central Bank Second Deputy Governor Ensa Drammeh told The Chronicle.
According to him, the alternative would have been to reprint the old notes but the final decision taken by the bank is to discontinue the notes. “We have to close them and allow the existing ones to be in circulation until the new family is introduced when they will gradually phase out. It’s going to be a substitution effect. What happens is that the badly mutilated ones as they come, we will grab and destroy them. So they will phase out.”
Reacting to customers’ complaints, Karamo Jawara, Central Bank’s Director of Banking Services responsible for currency matters, said the bank is the “unhappiest at the moment”, but said there is a new policy that will ensure that mutilated and dirty bank notes will not be in the market when the new family notes are released ‘in three months’ time’.
“We want to maintain the beauty and cleanliness. The current board has approved the clean note policy. We are going to set standard on these notes and when they reach certain standard we need to withdraw them, although it comes with cost. Clean note policy goes with cost because we must be printing more frequently so that as they get dirty we withdraw them.”
There’s also public criticism that the country has witnessed several changes of currency notes in the past years, arguing that could reduce the value of the money. But Drammeh argued back that the operation of currencies also required timely change of notes to meet the demand of technology.
“Counterfeiters are becoming more and more sophisticated. Technology is changing constantly. Even without anything, you have to continuously change the features because these are people who will be following the developments. They will be learning how to exactly replicate the currency notes. So once in a while, you also deviate, change and bring in new features so that they will not catch up with you.”