Cen­tral Bank says no new note de­signs for now

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - HTOO THANT thanhtoo@mm­times.com

The Cen­tral Bank says the econ­omy is not sta­ble enough to sup­port a re­design of bank notes to fea­ture na­tional hero Bo­gyoke Aung San, nor to jus­tify the cost and in­ter­rup­tion.

A NA­TIONAL League for Democ­racy MP has re­quested that the an­i­mals on Myan­mar’s cur­rency be re­placed with pic­tures of na­tional hero Bo­gyoke Aung San. But se­nior Cen­tral Bank of­fi­cials be­lieve Myan­mar’s econ­omy is not sta­ble enough to jus­tify the cost and in­ter­rup­tion.

U Kan Myint (NLD; Thayet) of the Pyithu Hlut­taw called for new notes fea­tur­ing pic­tures of Bo­gyoke Aung San, a na­tional hero and Daw Aung San Su Kyi’s fa­ther, at a par­li­men­tary ses­sion on Novem­ber 22.

He pointed out that cur­rency in other coun­tries is of­ten grace­fully dec­o­rated with re­spected fig­ures in­clud­ing kings, queens and na­tional he­roes. The fact that Myan­mar’s cur­rency fea­tures “ele­phants and lions” rather than its own his­toric idols was “sad and shame­ful”, U Kan Myint said.

Myan­mar first printed notes fea­tur­ing Bo­gyoke Aung San in 1958, just over a decade af­ter his as­sas­si­na­tion, ac­cord­ing to Cen­tral Bank vice pres­i­dent U Soe Min. New notes fea­tur­ing the gen­eral were is­sued in 1965, but those have since dis­ap­peared from circulation and the cur­rency now fea­tures an­i­mals and fa­mous build­ings.

The myth­i­cal Myan­mar chinthe first ap­peared on notes in 1994 and ele­phants in 2009, said U Soe Min. The NLD’s U Kan Myint, how­ever, takes um­brage with us­ing an­i­mals on the cur­rency.

“If we think se­ri­ously, it is like an­i­mals, which have knowl­edge only of sleep­ing, eat­ing and mat­ing, have been put in the pock­ets of the peo­ple across the coun­try and also rep­re­sen­ta­tives now in this hall,” he told par­lia­ment.

An ef­fort to rid bank notes of ex­otic an­i­mals will not be cheap, how­ever. The govern­ment would have to with­draw ex­ist­ing notes from circulation, store them and re­print new ones. U Soe Min said that the cost of re­plac­ing a sin­gle de­nom­i­na­tion note would run to around K100 bil­lion.

With­draw­ing cur­rency in or­der to is­sue re­designed notes would be costly and create un­cer­tainty for the public, he said.

“We need to con­sider the cost and in­se­cu­rity [that would re­sult] from is­su­ing new notes,” he said. “There­fore, [new notes] will be printed when the coun­try’s econ­omy is more sta­ble, and the tim­ing is more ap­pro­pri­ate.”

For the gen­eral public, de­spite Bo­gyoke Aung San’s wide­spread pop­u­lar­ity, some feel that with the kyat near­ing his­toric highs against the US dol­lar and the coun­try fac­ing an array of eco­nomic chal­lenges, there may be more press­ing mat­ters at hand.

“The govern­ment needs think about the coun­try’s eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion, the value of the cur­rency and the is­sues at hand,” said Ko Nay Soe, who works in a rice mill in Nay Pyi Taw, which like much of Myan­mar is strug­gling with low mar­ket prices of paddy and rice.

“The hlut­taw’s time shouldn’t be taken up be­cause [some­one] doesn’t want to look at a pic­ture of a lion on the ban­knotes. There are many mat­ters more im­por­tant than this to deal with our coun­try.” – Trans­la­tion by San Layy and Win Thaw Tar

Photo: Naing Wynn Htoon

A chinthe looks out proudly from the face of a K1000 note.

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