Sri Lanka’s Central Bank which earlier declined to say who signed a new batch of currencies came out with a statement admitting Finance Minister’s signature on new notes

Sri Lanka’s Central Bank which earlier declined to say who signed a new batch of currencies came out with a statement admitting Finance Minister’s signature on new notes. Sri Lanka’s Central Bank which earlier declined to say who signed a new batch of currencies came out with a statement admitting Finance Minister’s signature on new notes. The bank said the ‘Sri Lanka Heritage series’ issued in denominations of Rs. 1,000, 500, 50, 20 and 10, will bear Finance Minister and the Central Bank Governor’s signatures.

“The issue is dated July 1, 2004, because it’s the date the new Central Bank Governor Sunil Mendis took office,” explains an official who wished to remain unnamed.

The bank had earlier obtained Finance Minister Sarath Amunugama’s signature when he took up his portfolio early April.

But officials from the Central Bank’s currency department were left scratching their heads, when Amunugama told reporters mid-July 2004, that he had not placed his signature on Rs. 1,000 notes.

“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.”

As a result, automated teller machines and tourists in the airport had to make do with smelly currency notes, while banks who asked for new Rs. 1,000 notes from the Central Bank came away empty handed

The Central Bank at that time had five billion stock of Rs. 1,000 notes, which it quietly put away, to save Amunugama some embarrassment. The notes subsequently resurfaced carrying Amunugama’s and ex-Governor A S Jayawardene’s signature.

The Central Bank places an annual order with its currency printer Thomas de la Rue, to replace millions of soiled and damaged notes. The order is delivered in batches throughout the year, which gives the bank some room to switch signatures whenever a government changes.

-LBO Newsdesk: LBOEmail@vanguardlanka.com