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General News
New Ghana ¢Cedis, Pesewas Under Attack 7/16/2007
Barely two weeks after the new Ghana Cedis have been put in circulation, banks and other financial institutions have had to grapple with counterfeits and torn notes. According to some bank sources who spoke to GO, the counterfeits detected so far are in the GH¢ 10 and GH¢ 1 denominations.

Touching on the torn notes which are mostly in the GH¢ 1 denomination, one of the bank officials expressed worry on the trend. “Just in one day I had to receive three notes, which had almost been ripped in two and cellophane them since we could not reject them,” he said.

Expressing concern over the development, one of the sources intimated that it is now very easy to detect the fake currencies as the criminals have not yet perfected the counterfeiting, disclosing that unlike the new currency, it has been difficult to detect counterfeits of some of the old currency notes such as the ¢10,000.

He also revealed that the banks in Accra and the big cities of the country have so far not encountered so much of the fake currencies in view of the fact that those involved in the counterfeiting business send them to smaller towns and villages as well as market centres where there is little banking business, in order to keep them in circulation.

On how the banks deal with such counterfeit situations, our source said the banks normally punch holes in them to make them unusable. He added however that if a customer who has unknowingly received counterfeits insists on taking the fake money back to the sender for genuine money to be paid, that wish is granted otherwise the fake money is kept by the bank.

Speaking to the vexed issue of too much coins to customers since the new currency was put in circulation on Tuesday July 3, 2007, however, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Hon. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu has asked the banks to as a matter of urgency, address the issue because it is incurring the displeasure of most customers.

The Minister affirmed last Friday at the seventh annual working luncheon of the Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB) under the theme “Reflections on the re-denomination of the cedi,” that there was enough evidence that BoG did not release sufficient amounts of new currency notes when the money was first put in circulation, thereby resulting in the issuance of much coins.

Conceding, the BoG Governor who also asked all to exercise maximum restraint, however said that more notes had been injected into the banking system, expressing the hope that in view of that the situation would normalise soon.

Another issue raised by some sections of the Ghanaian public is to do with the very small size of coins such as the 1Gp, 5Gp and 10Gp denominations. “They could have at least made them a little bigger as they are now they are difficult to handle and may easily be misplaced or lost,” some contended.

Some banking staff who spoke with this Reporter also said counting the pesewas, especially those in the lower denominations is very tedious and they have to stay long hours to count them after the banks normal operation hours. They explained that apart from the slippery and small nature of the coins, the difficulty they were currently experiencing in their accounting is because they have not used pesewas in a long while and hoped they would get used to it as time wears on.

“Stocks that they give us everyday also run out because there is a rush for it,” one source at the Ghana Commercial Bank intimated to GO. He explained that all the time the notes finish faster than the coins, hence they have no option than dish out the coins, and which explains for the cry against the issuance of more coins. “In this situation there is nothing that we can do as we are under instruction not to give out the old currency which we have in abundance,” he supplied further.

“We should all learn to live with the coins because that is what we are all going to use now…Look, in a little while, when you lose GH¢ 10 you will be so pissed about yourself because it is a lot of money but right now we are not seeing it like that,” he advised.

Yet another group believes the value will not be the same with the newly introduced currency, as there are no quarter coins as pertains in the United States, no half and two and half pesewa coins as pertained previously when coins were in use in Ghana.

A quarter of a Ghana pesewa would be ¢25 of the old currency, half Ghana pesewa, ¢50, while a two and half Ghana pesewa would be ¢75 of the old money.

Apart from the absence of the afore mentioned pesewa denominations not auguring well for proper conversion until the old currency is faced out at the end of the year, some people who spoke to GO expressed concern that with the current denominations consumers would have to purchase commodities whose prices have been rounded up, while traders would also have a field day adding to the actual value of their goods, hence the value would not be the same.

Several attempts however, to reach Ms. Esi Hammond of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) Public Affairs Unit on the issues raised could not pull through. G. Observer

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