The rush by the government to replace the old $100 note, with the new polymer $100 banknotes in the height of the Christmas season has raised several questions.
People are saying that they do not agree with some of the reasons National Security Minister Stuart Young gave, including the financing of drugs, the illegal firearms trade, counterfeiting and even money laundering.
First of all many people who have been involved in money laundering have invested in real estate, gold and US dollars.
When there was speculation earlier this year that the government was going to devalue the TT dollar, many people had rushed to buy US dollars at the black-market rate, for as much as TT$10 to one US$1.
Some have argued that T&T does not have a major problem with counterfeiting since drug lords do not accept TT dollars to pay for drugs and guns. They trade in US dollars. It is only in TT that the $100 bill has value. It has no value in any other country even in the Caribbean. Outside of this country the US dollar is the currency used to do any kind of business.
National Security Minister Stuart Young was quoted as saying last week when he announced the change over to the new currency that India had a problem in the demonetization of its currency because India had insufficient new notes.
Some people are asking if the demonetisation of the $100 note is because there is insufficient new notes? If that is the reason why more have not been printed?
The government has chosen the busy Christmas season where shoppers spend the most money and this move can put the new notes into the system without suspicion.
There is another question by some curious persons as to how much money was really printed.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert said there is currently 80 million of the $100 bills in circulation in T&T and the Government printed enough of the new notes to compensate for the upcoming change over.
Is there any way the government can verify that 80 million of the $100 notes were printed?
Young said that when the criminal comes to deposit or exchange they would have to explain where the money came from. Does the Minister really believe that criminals will go with thousands of $100 bills to the bank to change over to the new $100 notes?
The new $100 note and the murder rate which crossed the 500-mark have been the hot topic among the man-in-the-street, in the maxis, buses and in the rum shops.
When the rum posse of Ramsingh, Balkie, Dougla, and Rasta met for their usual lime at Corky’s bar they were discussing the new $100 bill.
Ramsingh: “Barman bring d drinks. We want ah bottle ah puncheon, some water and a few beers. Rasta like to chase with ah beer. So barman, yuh see d new $100 note as yet? Ah went by ah ATM machine by meh bank to draw ah $100 and there was a sign temporary out of order. Ah went by a next one and ah didn’t get d new note.”
Barman: “Meh friend say he went to deposit ah few hundred dollars in d old $100 bill at d ATM and d machine not taking d money. He went to buy some material to fix he house fuh d Christmas and d owner say he not accepting $100 bill. He say he was looking to change $2,000 in $50 bills but ah fella ask him for ah extra $200 dollars to change d money.”
Ramsingh: “Ah doh trust dis government, nah. Dey have something up dey sleeve to rush and change over d $100 bill. Ah feel dey want to put more money in d system because d country facing ah financial crisis. Rowley spending more money than d country earning, so he have to do something to make up d shortfall.”
Barman: “Ah feel d government print more than 800 million in $100 notes. How we go know how much money dey really print. Dey trying ah kind ah smart thing.”
Dougla: “It look like dey was planning dat for ah long time because as Young say dey go change over d $100 bill d next day containers of the new $100 notes were being offloaded to d Central Bank in Port of Spain. If dey had done dat before the local government election, dey would ah lose more seats. Rowley go use all d tricks in d books to win d next general election. Allyuh
Rasta: “Ah hear d minister say dat he changing d $100 bill to stop d drug trade. Like he eh realise dem drug dealers who does bring in weed, cocaine and guns want US dollars. Dem dealers does have to pay more than $10 for one US dollar to buy dey drugs. Is d man on d block who selling d drugs does use TT dollars. Now dey go use $20 and $50 dollar bill.”
Ramsingh: “Barman, yuh ever see ah counterfeit $100 bill. Ah sure yuh never see ah customer coming with counterfeit money to buy rum. Ah know dat some smartmen does try to make counterfeit US dollars.”
Barman: “Ah wuking here for more than 10 years and ah never see a counterfeit $100 bill. Dem PNM politicians know how to fool d people. Dey try to fool d people in d local election with all kind ah promises and dat didn’t wuk. Voters eh easy to fool now, nah.”
Dougla: “Ah hope when ah come back next week ah go have d new $100 bill to pay.”
Ramsingh: “Barman, what yuh think bout d murder rate gone over 500 and before d end of d year ah feel it be about 520. Gary say blame dem lawyers but lawyers have to defend accused people for whatever dey are charged with. It have lawyers in d USA who does even defend terrorists who kill people when dey are charged.”
Until next week!