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Why the secrecy in the printing of new currency?

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

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VERY FEW people are aware of it, but we are going to have a new set of peso bills very, very soon. We may be giving our godchildren the new bills as gifts this Christmas. The present set of paper Philippine currency will be phased out. New coins will be issued later.

The question is, why is the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) doing this secretly and hastily? The nation is totally unaware of what will happen to their money or how the new money will look like. Malacañang, Congress and the Supreme Court did not know anything about it beforehand. The BSP claims that it is an independent entity and can do anything it wants. In other words, it is the fourth branch of government, a co-equal of the executive, legislative and judicial branches. To get a favorable reaction from President Aquino, the images of his parents, Ninoy and President Cory, will be in the P500 note. But no one, except insiders and a privileged few, have seen the designs.

The new banknotes will be printed by several European printers led by the British company De La Rue although we have a Security Printing Plant that cost the Filipino taxpayers billions of pesos.

The BSP’s ostensible reason for completely changing the nation’s currency—dubbed as the New Generation Currency Project—is “to guard against counterfeiters by making it very difficult and costly for counterfeiters to produce exact copies of our money.” It will do this by upgrading the security features in all our peso bills “to make it easier for the public to detect fake money.” It said it will educate the public “on how to tell genuine banknotes from counterfeits.”

The financial and business community is mystified by the project for several reasons:

1. The reason given by the BSP for the project is to make the country’s currency “counterfeit-proof.” But the present peso bills are not being counterfeited, or facing a “clear and present danger” of being sabotaged by counterfeiters. The BSP has not offered any proof, or even claim, that our currency is being counterfeited. We had a counterfeit president, a counterfeit senator and many counterfeit congressmen, but not many counterfeit peso bills. Financial experts say the Philippine peso is not likely to be targeted by serious counterfeiters because it is not widely used and the volume is small. Counterfeiters will focus their talents, energies and resources on the US dollar, the euro and other heavyweight currencies because the criminal returns there are huge.

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Read the rest of the article at the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

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