NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 7 – The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has launched a two-week campaign that seeks to encourage Kenyans to release the coins in their possession in exchange for notes.
CBK Director of Currency Operations and Branch Administration James Lopoyetum said the \’Coin Week Campaign\’ which runs from June 20 to July 1 will not only encourage the mobilisation of coins but also ensure their free circulation in the market.
"We did a quick analysis and realised that majority of Kenyans are holding coins in one way or another and our concern is that perhaps Kenyans don\’t realise that as we (CBK) continue minting more coins, we are spending much more of tax payers\’ money," Mr Lopoyetum said in backing the initiative.
Over the last few years, there has been a scarcity of coins in circulation which in the last few months has become acute and resulted in challenges being experienced in obtaining loose change at retail and points of sale.
Retail chains for instance have resulted in giving customers sweets instead of a coins in change, leading many people to think that they are being short-changed by the supermarkets.
The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that some retailers do not acknowledge some coins especially the 50 cent coin as legal tender. Further, commercial banks, which mostly release money to customers in form of bank notes only, charge a fee for any deposits made in coins.
This has in turn meant that individuals do not see the need to shop using coins which affect their re-circulation. According to statistics, the Central Bank released 1.23 billion pieces of coins worth Sh4.6 billion over the past year to April 2011.
Although the country has recorded a growth in coin circulation over the last 12 years, Mr Lopoyetum believes that Kenyans are holding more than half of the coins in circulation thus the move to arrest the situation.
CBK appreciates the need to involve all stakeholders and has already met various stakeholders to try and sensitise them on the issue.
Mr Lopoyetum said they are working with the commercial banks through the Kenya Bankers Association and retail chains with the hope that they will contribute towards making the initiative successful.
Besides having various collection points, CBK hopes that banks will waive the charges on coins to encourage Kenyans to take back their coins and get banknotes in exchange.
The director said that Central Bank will meet on July 26 to review the progress made in ensuring the availability of coins and bank notes.