ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, Friday May 31, 2019 – New $50 Eastern Caribbean (EC) polymer bank notes have been launched, with more denominations expected to be rolled out over the next year and a half.
The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) launched the notes on Wednesday, with Governor Dr Timothy Antoine saying they will be cleaner, safer and stronger than the existing paper bills.
He said the choice of polymer notes – over cotton paper, a cotton/polymer combination, or endurance high durability paper which were all considered – was to enhance the security and usability of EC notes.
“As part of our due diligence, the ECCB consulted with colleagues from the Bank of England, the Bank of Scotland and the Bank of Canada on their experiences with changing from paper to polymer. Compared to paper notes, polymer notes are cleaner: resistant to dirt and moisture; more secure: they have advanced security features which make them harder to counterfeit; more durable: they last at least, three times longer; and more environmentally friendly,” Antoine said, adding that the new notes have incorporated raised bumps that cater for the blind and visually impaired.
The $50 note, which bears the image of the late former ECCB Governor, Sir Dwight Venner, will go into circulation from next month.
Antoine said the circulation of the other new notes will be a phased process.
“In respect of the rollout, our current projection is: the $100, $20 and $10 notes will be issued around September of this year and the $5 note around September of next year,” he said.
The bank governor noted that both the current paper notes and the new polymer currency will be in circulation at the same time, but they would both be legal tender.
“So you don’t need to rush to the bank and bring in your paper to get polymer….There’s no point at this stage in destroying absolutely good paper notes – that would be wasteful and irresponsible. So we’ll use them until their natural life ends and we will replace them,” he said.
“As unfit paper notes are returned to the Central Bank and our current inventory of paper notes is depleted, they will be replaced by polymer notes.”
During the launch, the ECCB Governor also assured of the strength of the EC dollar.
“I hereby confirm that our EC dollar is strong. As of Friday, 24 May 2019, the backing ratio was 98.4 per cent. More importantly, our foreign reserves continue to grow and now total US$1.75 billion,” he said.
“As we celebrate the strength of our currency, let me be very clear: The ultimate defence for our strong EC dollar is our production. It is through the production of goods and especially services (increasingly higher up the value chain) that we will earn our way in the world; enhance our capacity to finance and determine our development scope and trajectory; reduce public debt and deliver shared prosperity for the citizens of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union,” Antoine added.