Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary of Finance and the Economy Joel Jack is confident all the old $100 in Tobago would be exchanged by the December 31 deadline.
Jack was responding to members of the media following calls by Minority Leader Watson Duke for an extension for the demonetisation of the $100 bill. Duke has labelled the government's haste to demonetise the $100 note as “an attack on senior citizens” and African tradition. Duke called for a six-month extension to "give Tobagonians time" to adhere to what he called "stupid rules" by the PNM.
Jack countered, “Mr Duke view was on the premise that Tobagonians are unable to change out their old notes before the December 31 deadline. I know a number of banks are opening and extending their hours to facilitate the process. I’ve been in conversation with a number of the bank managers and they are, together with their staff, they are going over and beyond the call of duty to ensure that Tobagonians are facilitated, to ensure that they are able to change out their old notes within the stipulated time.”
Jack said the Central Bank together with the Division of Finance and the Economy hosted an open session on Thursday at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex in Scarborough to appraise the public of the security features of the new polymer $100 notes and give advice on the process to replace the old $100 bill.
“So, although we don’t have any specific office (Central Bank) located here, we are confident that the Tobagonians would be able to change out their notes within the stipulated time.”
Duke also slammed the PNM hierarchy for remaining silent while “sou sou” funds were deemed illegitimate by banks, who are asking people to declare their source of income. Saying three generations of his family participated in sou sou, the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) leader said Tobagonians are being disrespected. Jack did not address that specific issue although asked about it.
Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, speaking on Monday after filing his nomination papers for PNM internal elections next year, also dismissed Duke's criticisms.
"As far as I'm concerned, when last I checked, Mr Duke did not have the necessary prerequisites to comment in a way about that matter, that will call for a certain type of informed response," Charles said.