Polymerisation of P1000 banknote continues to be a concern

News01 092319
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

The conversion of the Philippine national currency from paper to polymer banknotes continues to be a matter of concern, as some officials have previously stated that it will affect the livelihood of Filipinos.

Last year, many netizens and lawmakers expressed their disappointment to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for removing the ‘national heroes’ from the ₱1,000 bill design.

Senator Nancy Binay earlier expressed her frustration over this matter, and she cited her plan to file a bill that would require the concurrence of Congress before changing the design of the country’s legal tender.

Meanwhile, the Senator also pointed out the possibility of having a Senate probe on the BSP’s shift to the polymer as it would affect the livelihood of many abaca farmers. In October 2021, the central bank announced that they had reached an agreement with Note Printing Australia (NPA) to produce 500 million pieces of 1,000-Piso polymer banknote to be rolled out by the middle of 2022.

According to BSP officials, polymer banknotes shall significantly benefit the Philippines as they have enhanced security which is difficult to counterfeit. They are more cost-effective due to their long lifespan, they can withstand extreme temperatures, and they are recyclable and safe for the environment.

A polymer banknote also allows its surface to be resistant to dirt, bacteria, and viruses, which is advantageous during the Covid-19 Pandemic; however, polymer money is much more expensive. On the other hand, the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) resisted the shift to polymer, as it would have a major effect on the abaca industry. PhilFIDA claimed that Abaca is far more resistant to saltwater decomposition than most vegetable fibers, making it suitable for rope and cordage manufacture.

According to BSP Deputy Governor Mert Tangonan, the shift to polymer banknotes would have minimal effect on the abaca industry, citing that it would affect only 0.2% to 0.4% of abaca farming jobs and up to 0.2% of total abaca exports. Moreover, there are still issues that need to be addressed under the BSP and NPA partnership.

Several media outlets and senators have requested visibility of the contract that has been awarded to NPA, amounting Php 3,694,154,888.44 for the said project. This amount is said to be ‘excessive while alternative Polymer banknote suppliers can provide the same products and services to the BSP for a much lower price.’

However, there were reports that BSP circumvented competitive bidding, the reason for alternative suppliers’ inaccessibility to compete for the project. BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno has not provided details of the contract yet.

Image credits: Nonie Reyes


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