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Wednesday 22 January 2020
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Sando taxi drivers want more time to give up old $100 bills

Taxi driver Daniel Ramdeen says the public should have more time to surrender current $100 bills for the new polymer banknotes. - Vashti Singh
Taxi driver Daniel Ramdeen says the public should have more time to surrender current $100 bills for the new polymer banknotes. - Vashti Singh

Government’s notice on plans to introduce a new polymer $100 gives people too little time to change the old notes in the midst of the busy Christmas season, members of the public in San Fernando said on Saturday.

Taxi driver Khemchan Ramkissoon, who works the Port of Spain/San Fernando route, Government is putting people in a state of panic by asking them to turn in all old $100 bills to banks within two weeks. “We are a day short of two weeks before Christmas and the honest businessman and drivers, or vendors will not have the time to go to the bank every other day to change the money they collect while doing business,” Ramkissoon said. While the measure is one way to look out for those who are involved in illegal activities and are “hoarding cash by the crate”, Ramkissoon said there are honest business people who will need six months or a year to hand in old bills in exchange for the new notes.

Daniel Ramdeen, a taxi driver on the Penal to San Fernando route, said he welcomed the new notes but also complained about the time-frame given to turn in the old notes. “Well I am happy that the new polymer notes are being introduced but the Government should bring the new notes in the New Year,” Ramdeen said.

Alan Mitchell, taxi driver in the city, said Government is not concerned about businessmen and taxi drivers trying to capitalise on the Christmas season. “Why now?” he asked.

“Earning a living in this country is difficult as it is, why we have to go to the bank and change the money within two weeks?” he asked.

Shoppers look for deals on High Street, San Fernando on Saturday. - Vashti Singh

A businessman on High Street, who requested anonymity, however said he is happy with the fast introduction of the new notes as believed it meant people would use the current bills to buy consumer items. The store sells brand-name clothes and shoes, with items ranging from Adidas, Puma, Converse and Sketchers, and are priced from $600 to $3,000. “You have to agree not everyone can afford brand-name clothes and shoes, so I believe there may be those who will be seeking to spend out their cash within the two weeks that the Government has given to turn in old $100 bills,” the store owner said.

Market vendor Kateland Simon also said Government is taking a step in the right direction and everyone should support the move. “I am working all day selling my produce but I will have to take the time to change my money,” she said. She encouraged to take the time to go to the banks and change their old notes.

Vendor Kateland Simon, on High Street, San Fernando welcomes plans to change the $100 bill and encourages others to do turn in their bills when the new ones become available. - Vashti Singh

The polymer bill will improve the durability of the TT banknotes, upgrade the capacity to protect against forgery, and allow for easier tactile recognition by the visually impaired. The new bill is based on a polymer substrate and is said to have much-enhanced security features.

In an earlier report, the Central Bank intends to expand the range of polymer notes to the other denominations in 2020. The new polymer $100 note will co-circulate with the existing paper-based $100 note remaining as legal tender until further notice.

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