Members of the Muslim community are calling on the government to hold their hand on a decision to fast track the implementation of the new polymer $100 note, which it wants to introduce before the end of the year.
The group–Concerned Muslims of Trinidad and Tobago, wants National Security Minister Stuart Young and the Government to delay on the change-over from the current note to the brand new polymer $100 bill as they believe a quick change will adversely affect Muslims who according to the group does not use the banking system as it is against their religious beliefs.
Minister Young announced the decision to change the current $100 bill during the post Cabinet press briefing on Thursday, and the amendment to the Central Bank act was brought before Parliament yesterday with the Senate expected to debate the amendment in a special sitting today.
The Central Bank has announced the bill will be unveiled to the public on Monday.
No confirmed timeline has been announced with regard to the phasing out of the old $100 bill as yet.
But yesterday, Imam Sheraz Ali told a news conference at the Nur E Islam mosque in El Socorro, “We feel perhaps that he may have bypassed the fact that many Muslims who do not use the banking industry to save their money. Specifically, because Almighty creator Allah in the Holy Quran has prohibited Muslims from taking or paying interest.”
“Therefore many Muslims over the years have saved their monies in their homes at various places without using the banking system,” according to Ali, who said there have also been several issues faced by Muslims who have ventured to the bank to do business.
“When Muslims go to change this money that they have been saving for many years, they will be met with resistance and opposition from the banking sector which has already over the past few years shown a lot of resistance especially to Muslims when they come to change money, to bank money, to do financial transactions because of the situation around the world due to international terrorism and so on,” he said.
Imam Ali also raised concerns about the Muslims who had been saving money to travel to Hajj and questioned if the changeover would create complications for them.
“Many people save for many years, it costs between 50 to 70 thousand dollars to do this pilgrimage. Now they going to be faced after this bill is passed, on Sunday I expect, to bring in that $50,000 within 14 days and to be able to prove that they were saving this money to go to Hajj to now be able to change it to polymer notes. We find that this will cause a lot of difficulties,” he said.
Imtiaz Ali, Public Relations Officer of Muslims of T&T also said the change would adversely affect small businessmen and taxi drivers, who do not use banks to house their money.
The group said while it understands the idea behind the change, they fear many innocent people may be labelled if the process goes on as proposed.
“We are very concerned, we think that this is unfair, it is an injustice to the public of Trinidad and Tobago. While we acknowledge that it can help in the fight against criminal activity and so on, at the same time a lot of innocent people gonna be caught up in this,” Mohammed said.