N Touch
Monday 27 January 2020
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Letters to the Editor

More going on than change of currency

THE EDITOR: The reasons given for the $100 currency change do not make sense. There currently is no $100 counterfeiting problem (existing security features on bills deter this).

The real reason is that the Government wants to purge all the existing $100 bills in circulation to try to force people to explain their wealth. But should this be necessary?

We have the FIU, which collects vast amounts of data and generates little useful data. We have various banking oversight mechanisms. We have the Office of the DPP that prosecutes very little. We have surveillance from phone/internet usage (although no-one likes to publicly talk about this).

And despite all of this, drug/crime kingpins go about their business freely, despite TT being a very small country and “everybody knows each everybody’s business.” But somehow changing the entire country’s old $100 bills for new ones will magically solve all our problems.

Also, what is the monetary cost of doing this exercise? How many millions of dollars will be spent on the new currency? How many thousands of hours will people have to line up and wait at the bank and try to convince someone that they are not a criminal? (Banks don’t care as long as further compliance and monitoring don’t directly affect them – by affecting bank customers and not the banks it’s no surprise that the Bankers Association supports this move.)

The most salient and disturbing point about this is the presumption of “guilty until proven innocent.” I’m not sure why citizens should be treated this way when governments blatantly waste money on stupid projects (Toco port?), facilitate corruption, and fail to implement constitutional reform (among other things, changing the way the judiciary operates) or election campaign finance laws (can’t have people know where campaign money comes from).

Imagine if the eternally underfunded Office of the DPP has money to fill vacancies. Imagine if we had an efficient legal system that did not depend on the Privy Council for fair treatment and decisions.

The real problem in TT is unwillingness to fix the underlying issues, rather than treat the symptoms.

The other worrying thing is the general election coming up next year. Is the Government attempting to use the $100 changeover to artificially inject money into the economy to “let the good times flow?”

Simply printing money will cause massive hyperinflation and further worsening of the economy. (Before you label this theory as crazy let’s not forget that the Central Bank basically let the Clico financial scandal occur due to lack of action).

It’s clear there is more going on here than currency replacement. But go ahead and change everyone’s $100 bills and fool the people that you are “tough on crime.”

R SAMAROO

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