The Central Bank of TT once again opened its doors over the weekend to facilitate the exchange of paper $100 banknotes to the new polymer bills.
In a public notice on December 23, the bank announced its Port of Spain office would be opened on December 28 and 29 from 9 am to 3 pm. In addition the Unit Trust Corporation, Scarborough, would facilitate the exchange from 8 am to 2 pm on the above mentioned days as well as Monday December 30.
When Sunday Newsday visited the Financial Towers on Independence Square, there were few customers but there was a new arrival every 15 to 20 minutes on average.
One woman said she made her way from Iere Village in south Trinidad to exchange her money. She said she preferred to make the drive to Central Bank in Port of Spain because “the process was easier” than at the commercial banks. She said she did not have to wait to be attended to and there were no problems at all with her transaction.
Another customer said he owned a bar and so walked with his licence to make the exchange. He said the process was “very easy, very cool and calm” and he received excellent service.
The Supermarkets Association of TT (SATT) previously expressed the concern that funds in overnight bags in the possession of commercial banks on January 1, 2020 would not be honoured as legal tender.
Since then, in an additional public notice dated December 24, the bank outlined guidelines for redeeming the cotton notes after December 31.
It said: “In order to facilitate efficient and secure transfer of deposits by merchants/organizations who may collect $100 cotton notes on December 31, 2019, commercial banks will be allowed to accept deposits of these notes from merchants/organizations on January 2 and 3, 2020 for redemption at the Central Bank. Please note that merchants/organizations should verify before December 31, 2019 with their banks that they will be prepared to accept the full deposits, taking into account Sources of Funds requirements and other considerations. The Central Bank will not be accepting these $100 cotton notes after December 31, 2019 from merchants/organizations in this category.”
In response, SATT president Rajiv Diptee applauded the bank for its decision that would ensure all merchants have a window to make deposits of December 31 sales.
“Supermarkets and retailers remind the authorities and the government that there are many bills and expenses to pay at this time. We remained fully aware of the national bedlam that could have taken place had these measures not been put in place to make deposits beyond the 31st.”
He added many stores made special preparations for the Christmas period and the time government chose to conduct the demonitisation exercise adversely affected sales although the full effects were not yet measured. However he expressed the hope that the exercise yielded the desired results and that the nation was better off for it.