Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

31 July 2014

Cameroon: When Banknotes Are Poorly Handled

The quality of some banknotes especially FCFA 500, FCFA 1,000 and FCFA 2,000 have deteriorated to an extent that they are rejected by both buyers and sellers. A serious quarrel erupted between Bernadette M., a "bayam sellam" and a customer in the Sandaga Market in Douala over a very ugly and tired FCFA 2,000 banknote.

The customer, who after purchasing items for FCFA 2,150, handed a good-looking FCFA 5,000 to Bernadette for reimbursement only to receive a bizarre FCFA 2,000 that she immediately rejected and asked for a replacement. Bernadette, who politely told the buyer she was also given the money by a customer, claimed she hadn't another.

Wrathfully, the customer removed the goods worth FCFA 2,150, placed them on her table and asked for the FCFA 5,000 she earlier handed in order to purchase elsewhere. The seller hesitated and only gave her after serious exchange of hard words. The manner in which people handle money determines how long it can circulate though it hasn't an expiring date. Butchers and "bayam sellams" dealing in foodstuff like cassava, Irish potatoes, cocoyam and vegetables have no time to clean their hands before receiving or handing over money to customers.

Their money is often packed in a small bag and fastened round the waist or around the neck. Some keep money under bags of spices, in plastic bags or containers. While others still tie money on the edge of their loincloth, some prefer wooden safes which is another enemy to the banknote. While users complain bitterly on the state of banknotes up to FCFA 2,000, others think it is high time the Bank of Central African States started circulating new ones.

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