ATM’s and tourists in the airport have to make do with dirty currency notes, while the Central Bank tries to overcome an issue with currency

Automated teller machines and tourists in the airport have to make do with dirty currency notes, while the Central Bank tries to overcome an issue with currency. Automated teller machines and tourists in the airport have to make do with dirty currency notes, while the Central Bank tries to overcome an issue with currency. Banks who asked for new Rs. 1000 notes from the Central Bank came away empty handed, despite the Bank having a five billion stock of the green bill, apparently because of Finance Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama’s public denials that he had not put his signature to thousand rupee currency notes.

The new Finance Minister reportedly first made this comment about the green bill, to prove that his government is not ‘printing’ money, a technical term to describe the phenomenon where the Central Bank buys excessive quantities of Treasury Bills to finance the budget deficit.

The Minister told the media again Wednesday, that his signature was not on Rs. 1000 notes, but said that it was on Rs. 50 notes.

The Minister said a new finance minister traditionally gives his signature to the Central Bank to use when the Bank prints news notes each year to replace old damaged ones.

“As far I know, my signature is on Rs. 50 notes, not on Rs. 1000 notes,” a smiling Minister Amunugama quipped, answering a journalist’s questions in Sinhalese.

“If it is on Rs. 1000 notes I should know.” (Mummer daner gun-ner eparyer, darhey nort-tu wuller thiyernawarnum)

But his comments has put the unfortunate Central Bank in a difficult position, while tourists arriving at airport bank counters are also getting smelly rupees, in return for the for the crisp dollars they give to boost Sri Lanka’s dwindling external reserves.

Officials say Central Bank this week completed taking delivery of a twenty billion plus stock of notes, from its currency printer, Thomas de la Rue.

Today, the Bank said in a statement that it is issuing new Rs. 1,000, Rs. 500, Rs. 50 and Rs. 10 notes, ‘shortly’ but diplomatically refrained from saying who signed them, though the notes have an issue date of April 10.

When the notes finally hit the streets, commercial bankers may have to work extra hard to convince the public that the notes are not counterfeits, containing the forged signature of the Finance Minister!

-LBO Newsdesk: LBOEmail@vanguardlanka.com