Economist Indera Sagewan-Alli has predicted that the Central Bank's change of the current $100 note to the new polymer note will happen very soon and she has urged people and businesses to get their business in order.
She was responding to an announcement last Thursday by National Security Minister Stuart Young that current $100 notes will be taken out of circulation in favour of the new, security-heavy polymer notes.
Sagewan-Alli said the extent to which the change would impact taxi drivers, hairdressers and the unbanked people would depend on how much cash they have in hand and whether within the time frame they can turn it in to be able to get the new currency. She stressed there is a segment of individuals who may deliberately manage affairs in a cash member.
"With the new dispensation for them not to be out of pocket in the short term they will have to face the reality of actually declaring one way or another, the cash they are storing, to be able to protect the value of their money or run the risk of losing it."
She said the unbanked obviously have the option, and the Central Bank would put things in place, for people to go into a bank and get the new notes or get it directly from the Central Bank. She noted that if someone has under $10,000 they do not have to declare a source of funds.
Sagewan-Alli said while no deadline had been given by the Central Bank, "I do not imagine it will be too much into the future." She added that if it is too far then it will defeat the objective of using the change as an immediate crime or anti-corruption initiative.
"It would suggest they are trying to catch monies generated through illegal businesses and catch those individuals off guard as much as possible. I believe the time frame will be very short." She said people should be cognizant and realistic of this fact.
"Do not sit back and believe it will take care of itself. You need to be proactive and find ways to address it." She suggested that if someone does not have a bank account they can have a relative bank the money for them. "So many ways you can in fact do this."
She pointed out the Central Bank in its strategic plan, speaks to the plan to convert all the currency to use polymer paper to protect and secure the currency. "If currency poses a security threat and ease of counterfeiting, then it (the changeover) is justified."
Sagewan-Alli said it was odd that the announcement was made by Minister Young and not Central Bank Governor Dr Alvin Hilaire who has responsibility for monetary issues, currency and policy. She said although security and corruption issues were given as the reason behind the changeover, the announcement should have been made by Dr Hilaire.
On the change happening during the Christmas season she said there will be challenges with traffic in the banking system during the holiday period. "(But) I am sure those issues would have been taken into consideration."