Trinidad and Tobago convert $100 note to polymer
- Published: Dec 30, 2019, 9 AM
Trinidad and Tobago issued a polymer $100 bank note Dec. 9 to replace the paper version of the same denomination. The mostly blue 156- by 66-millimeter note was printed by De La Rue. It has some of the firm’s standard “feel, look, tilt” security features, including raised printing, a see-through window, a windowed security thread, and shimmering gold ink.
The face shows a bird of paradise on a branch, the national coat of arms, and the red and black national flag. The Eric Williams Financial Complex in Port of Spain and the Juniper off-shore oil platform are shown on the back. Although these are the same main design elements as on its predecessor, its appearance is radically different.
It is the country’s second polymer issue; $50 notes were issued in 2014 and 2015. The bank says it intends to replace the $1, $5, $10, and $20 paper bills with polymer versions in March 2020.
The stated reason for the note is the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago’s plan “to improve the durability of the Trinidad and Tobago bank notes, upgrade the capacity to protect against forgery, and allow for easier tactile recognition by the visually impaired.”
Events surrounding the release indicate there may be more to it. The bank initially said the new note would co-circulate with the existing paper-based $100 note and would be legal tender until further notice. It turns out the further notice period was three weeks. Coincident with the introduction, Parliament passed three amendments to the nation’s Central Banking Act and Crime Act. One withdrew the legal tender status of all old $100 notes effective Jan. 1, 2020. The others established restrictions of $50,000 for companies and $10,000 for individuals on the amount of old currency that could be exchanged.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi told the nation’s Newsday of “huge sums of dirty money being detected in the ongoing exercise to replace the $100 banknote.”
The restrictions and the short redemption period caused the new notes to quickly become so scarce that they were being sold for $120 on the black market. But even commercial banks got in on the profiteering, as they began charging their customers to exchange bills. Newsday said that Finance Minister Colm Imbert told the Senate he “hoped banks might be swayed by moral suasion to ease up on the fees they charge customers to exchange $100 banknotes for the new polymer bill.”
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