A new polymer $100 bill will be in circulation within the next two weeks. National Security Minister Stuart Young yesterday announced a Cabinet decision to remove the existing $100 bill and replace it with a new harder to counterfeit note.
Government wants this change to happen before the end of the year and in an effort to achieve this Young said there would be sittings of the Lower House of Parliament today and the Upper House tomorrow, with a view to amending the Central Bank Act to reduce the time given to remove a note from circulation from three months to a minimum of 14 days.
At the post-Cabinet press briefing yesterday Young said the removal of the current $100 note will undermine the financing of criminal activity through stored money.
“Today, I advised the Cabinet that in order for us to fight money laundering, including the financing of drugs and narcotics and illegal firearms, tax evasion and the black money economy, counterfeiting and other related problems, that the Government should withdraw from circulation the current TT$100 note issued by the Central Bank,” he said.
Young explained: “These criminal and corrupt activities are financed by illicit money and in many instances are supported and conducted through the use of stored cash, which inter alia, is difficult to trace.
“At National Security, we have been monitoring a number of criminal activities and we believe that the storing of cash is being used to undermine good governance and the rule of law.
“This is all about national security. For quite a while now at National Security, we have been provided with certain information for an extended period of time with respect to criminal and corrupt activities, which in the view of National Security, serves to undermine the rule of law, good governance, and our national security,” Young said.
As a result, he said, “I’ve advised Cabinet and it has been accepted that we should replace the existing $100 note with a newly issued note and a new design printed on polymer paper.”
According to the National Security Minister counterfeit finds showed that people took smaller notes, sometimes a $1 bill, bleached them and reprinted them as blue $100 bills.
“So we’re changing out the existing $100,” he said.
The new bill, which was revealed by the Central Bank yesterday afternoon, will be in circulation within 14 days.
“The polymer paper immediately adds a measure of security,” Young said.
The new design is expected to have a facility to assist the visually impaired.
“Certain advice has been sought and Cabinet has accepted that we need to amend the Central Bank Act so tomorrow (today), we will be going to the House of Representatives to amend the Central Bank Act,” he said.
Young said the administrative oversight of the removal and introduction of the new bill will be handled by the Central Bank.
He added: “I have also asked and it has been accepted that there be an emergency sitting of Senate on Saturday, a special sitting because of the national security nature.”
The minister said he expected to have the amendment to the Central Bank Act passed by Saturday.
Young said the currency will be printed by a company in United Kingdom and he expected minimal interruption during the rollout of the new bill. Young could not provide the cost of the new bill.
“You are being asked to exchange your existing TT$100 notes for new notes. Once you go into the system, as will be announced by the Central Bank, you provide what cash you have in hand, they will be exchanged for new polymer $100 notes and we just continue business going forward,” he said.
“I can guarantee you this, it is going to help with the fight against corruption and the criminal element who must now present their money and say where it came from.”