17 May 2010

Uganda: New Currency Notes Excite Market

Kampala — THE public has expressed mixed reactions to the new currency notes that officially came into circulation yesterday.

Early this month, the Bank of Uganda introduced a new series of bank notes in the denominations of sh50,000, sh20,000, sh10,000, sh1,000, and a new sh2,000 note.

Scores of people rushed to automated teller machines (ATMs) for the new notes, but many were unable to access them.

Many people interviewed were optimistic that the new notes would curb the problem of counterfeits, which had become rampant with the old currencies.

"The notes should be welcomed by the public because of their nice features, which cannot be easily forged. It (note) is easy to move with because of their size," said Stanbic Bank communication manager Daniel Nsibambi.

He, however, noted that the new notes could pose a challenge to many people during the transition period since they are more familiar with the old notes.

Chris Kabagambe of Kenya Commercial Bank noted that the new notes have fool-proof security features. "This will fight counterfeit because of the unique features unlike the old ones. We expect the newly-introduced sh2,000 note to reduce inflation," he said.

Stanley Wasajja, a boda-boda cyclist at Ndeeba stage, urged the Government to come up with smaller denominations instead of introducing the sh2,000 note.

He said people doing small business face a lot problems with big notes.

Dan Okedi, the manager of Petro Fuel Station on Kampala Road, expressed satisfaction about the new notes, saying they will help curb forgeries.

Betty Kirabo, a clothes dealer on Kampala Road, urged the Central Bank to sensitise the public to avoid confusion since the old notes are still in circulation.

Martin Kahumbe, a businessman from Jinja, expressed doubt about the new notes, wondering why they were introduced at a time when the public is preparing for elections.

Anitah Nyakato, a baby clothes dealer on Kampala Road, was unaware of the new notes.

Maureen Whells, a dealer in wallets on Jinja Road, said the notes would boost her business since they fit well in wallets.

Umaruh Muwawule, a taxi operator from Kawempe, said the sh2,000 note was good.

Florence Bongole, a vendor at Nakasero Market, said the new notes will help traders move safely with their money because of their friendly size.

The new notes have unique features and are relatively small in size compared to the old ones.

Central Bank officials said most ATM machines need adjustment to handle the bank notes whose size is different from the ones due to be phased out.

During a recent meeting with commercial bank officials, Innocent Muhwezi, a Bank of Uganda official in Arua, said: "Commercial banks were asked to upgrade their ATMs to conform to the new notes. We expect all commercial banks to have completed updating their machines by June 17."

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