Mishandling of bank notes generates high concern
Thursday, April 23, 2009
The use of money as a medium of exchange, is basically to enable individuals to pay for goods or services they want in exchange for the money in their possession.
Across the world, money has evolved into a wide array of forms, all geared towards making life simpler. This is especially pronounced in the developed parts of the world. The case for other countries is different; like here in The Gambia where paper money remains the most used, although battering, to quite an insignificant proportion, continues in some part of the rural setup.
The Gambian currency, the Dalasis, has over the years gained some level of enhancement, as it were, both in terms of physical and, of course, monetary value especially in the face of heightened uncertainty surrounding current global economic and financial crisis. But mishandling of the dalasi has become a prickly issue, generating concern amongst those that really care. The greatest implication of this is that it costs government enormously to acquire these notes. This is probably a fact very few may be aware of. And besides cost of production, confort in handling money is also quite an issue as it is becoming a common place to come across broken and dirty notes all around.
But as the Daily Observer discovered, some concerned citizens from different walks of life have been expressing disappointment with the way and manner in which these bank notes are handled. The authorities, especially those at the Central Bank of The Gambia, are being taken to task, and the call is for urgent, necessary measures to be taken to stop the abuse. How this is done is what we sort to explore in this piece.
The level of indifference within society regarding the situation is expressed by the number of undesirable notes in circulation at every single point in time. Desperate about the whole thing, users have resorted to perpetual sealing of torn out parts of the notes with virtually all types of cello tapes. Some even go further to the extent of stapling the notes, thus making the money look not only ugly but in some situations unmanageably invalid. The fallout of all these include an atmospheric animosity, basically instigated by a culture of rejection of bank notes.
Rejecting of coins
The thought of not being able to acquire an article you have money to pay for makes one feels devastating. A parallel issue associated with money circulation is the fact that some players in the small scale business sector, notably shopkeepers and some retailers, are with the habit of rejecting small denominations of Gambian coins they unilaterally deem unfit for circulation. The question is: Is there any denomination in circulation that has been declared unfit, and if there is whose prerogative it is to make such declarations? These are questions our contributors will want tangible explanations for.
Reactions from the banking sector
The reaction to this undesirable trend of the few bankers we were able to reach is by no means unexpected. However, what is peculiar is that they seem more desperate for who they are. Yusupha Jammeh is the acting branch manager of the First International Bank located along the Kairaba Avenue. He agrees that mishandling of bank notes is a serious cause for concern. As bankers, Jammeh noted, they find it difficult to give out notes in the denominations of 5 and 10 dalasis as change to customers because of the way and manner they are handled. "What we do is to gather these monies and take them to the Central Bank and have them exchanged for new notes," he said. He however stressed that if this trend continues, it may result to shortage of bank notes at the Central Bank of The Gambia. To this end, he called for "fair treatment of the bank notes."
While appealing to the authorities at the bankers' bank to again come up with vigorous sensitisation activities so as to enlighten the masses about the issue, Jammeh maintained that it is the responsibility of the people themselves to take great care of the notes for the best interest of all. For Lamin Gaye, head of brand and communication at Ecobank-Gambia, mishandling of bank notes is a bitter problem for everyone. The issue, Gaye posited, involves cost on the side of the Central Bank, since "rotten" bank notes are being recovered from the system, which demands that new ones are reprinted.
He observed that at the moment there is limited quantity of fresh notes in the system, a drastic shift from the past. He attributed it all to the high costs involved in reprinting notes. "If you go to the Central Bank to get some new notes, the tendency is that you will be told that they are not available," he said, while acknowledging the efforts being undertaken by authorities at the Central Bank to sensitise the people about mishandling of these notes.
Gaye implored on the masses to be mindful in the way and manner they treat bank notes, stressing that notes should be neatly folded and be carefully kept wherever one wanted to put them. This, he noted, will help a great deal in reducing the cost of reprinting new Gambian bank notes.
In our attempt to get the side of the petty traders, this reporter bumped into Ebrima Jallow who trades at the Serrekunda Market. People, Jallow said, should not wait to be sensitised by the authorities as to how neatly they should handle their own bank notes. He is also cognisant of the fact that the cost for government is quite a lot in terms of printing new notes.
"It doesn't matter [where] you earn your living; be it in the market or elsewhere. What matters is that the bank notes should be neatly handled to avoid getting them destroyed," he said. Similar concerns were also expressed by other vendors across Serekunda Market, with everyone seeming unanimous in their call for people to be responsible in handling bank notes. Our attempt to have a view from the Central Bank of The Gambia, the people at the center of this very important issue unfortunately proved futile.
Author: by Hatab Fadera