Barely one year after they were introduced to celebrate 20 years of the July 22nd Revolution when Yaya Jammeh forcefully took over power from the erudite Sir Dawda K. Jawara, the D20 commemorative polymer (plastic) banknote bearing the picture of President Jammeh has been so disfigured that it can even be mistaken as a toilet paper. Many are now convinced that the counterfeit currencies were printed and circulated in the economy to coincide with the introduction of new family of redesigned banknotes introduced in March 2015 by the Central Bank. These imperfect D20.00 bank notes have two distinctive colors with noticeable differences in shape and sizes. Having the same currency with the same denomination (D20) printed from two different printers in different countries with two different colors one in blue and the other in green color had unsurprisingly raised people’s suspicion.

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That is why the launching dates for the new currencies were shifted twice (February and March 2015) to allow for the delay in printing of the counterfeit green D20 notes. According to the news release from the Central Bank on 26th February 2015,” few critical changes were made on the polymer (plastic) notes to enhance the overall security level of the denomination. However, both the polymer and current D25.00 notes shall be in circulation side by side and the latter will continue to be legal tender and be in circulation until it is fully withdrawn over time”. Almost one year later, these currencies are still in circulation side by side confusing everybody from market vendors to bank tellers as well as taxi drivers and shopkeepers.

It is time to tear up this imperfect currency notes and start reprinting the good old currency notes that were in circulation during the time of Sir Dawda Jawara. Historically, the picture of former President Jawara still deserved to be printed in our currencies as he is a figure of great importance to us – as he must be for any genuine Gambian. His government implemented sound economic policies that made the dalasi to compete favorably and it was positioned strongly with other heavily backed currencies in the West Africa region such as the Nigerian Naira, CFA Franc and the Ghanaian Cedi just to name a few. There is saying that a weak currency is a symptom of a fragile and depressed economy. The dalasi has endured so much pressures since Yaya Jammeh started intervening directly in the currency markets that today many are left wondering whether all those illegal interventions have brought the economic miracle that we envisaged.

Today, many small businesses, petty traders, market vendors and even the local ‘Narr’ shops have started refusing to accept these worn out D20 notes in exchange for their goods. Under the circumstances, the Central Bank is mandated by the CBG Act 2005 to intervene in order to limit the negative impact that this can have on the economy in the not too distant future when the public will finally cease to use or accept these worn out banknotes for any transactions. Since the aim of printing the national currency notes was to achieve efficiency and take advantage of technological development in the currency industry these dilapidated and imperfect notes are exactly the opposite of what it was intended for. Many are now left to wonder why the authorities are still muted over this serious issue and why heads have not started rolling to pay for the price of this gross negligent of duty.

The polymer banknotes have a date of 22nd July 2014 with the words “20 Years of Progress and Self-Reliance” written on the center bottom of the obverse side of the note. This should now be changed to read “Suitable for Toilet Use Only.”

Written By An Insider Banjul

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