The Central Bank will launch a study soon to determine the feasibility of keeping five-cent pieces in circulation. One-cent coins were removed in 2018.
Central Bank Governor Dr Alvin Hilaire said the one-cent pieces' demonetisation (removal from circulation) was done because the cost of minting the coin was more than the value of the coin itself. This new study, expected to take a couple of months, will determine if a similar fate is in store for the five-cent piece.
“We know that for sure we are using a lot of notes and coins, and we really want to get away from that as a country,” Hilaire said.
The study would be part of many efforts to make sure that acquiring TT currency is more cost-effective. In the case of other coins, for example, the Central Bank also changed the metallic composition so they use less precious metals and are no longer magnetised.
Hilaire also said that several strides were made to move the country toward digitisation of the economy to make TT citizens less dependent on notes and coins.
The polymer notes were also acquired because they were more cost-effective, Hilaire said.
“They cost a bit more – each note costs about 50 per cent more – but it lasts about two and a half times longer. So you see the balance is, you would be able to get more bang for the buck.”
The bank said new $5, $10 and $20 bills are expected to be introduced early in November and the $1 and $50 bills are expected to come on stream in 2021.
The transition from cotton to polymer $100 bills was part of a controversial demonetisation process at the end of last year for national security purposes as a means to destabilise criminal operations and force people with extraordinary amounts of cash to explain their wealth.
The new notes will maintain the same colours, feature local birds and flora and will bear similar themes to the old cotton notes, such as the market scene on the $5 bill or the oil derrick on the $10 bill – but they will also have new features.
These will include a smoother, more durable material, raised prints for the visually impaired and security features like microprint labels and features which can only be seen under ultraviolet light.
The bills will co-circulate as legal tender alongside their cotton counterparts until the end of 2021.