Express Business Filler #1

Frustrated, disappointed and concern about the elderly were just some of the sentiments expressed by several people who lined up outside the Central Bank to exchange their old $100 cotton bills for the new polymer notes on Thursday morning.

The old cotton note ceased being legal tender at midnight on January 1.

The last day for the general public to exchange the notes at commercial banks was December 31.

In a series of public notices this year, the Central Bank said that it would be open for the note exchange during the months of February, March and up to and including April 1, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays only.

This extended period is for those persons who were hospitalised, incapacitated or out of the country during the prescribed exchange period.

Express spoke with several people who were lining up outside the Central Bank and who said they live abroad.

Ranjee Persad who lives in New York and Henry Sampson who resides in the United States questioned why the Central Bank did not allow commercial banks to facilitate the extended exchange.

“There is also a lack of clarity as to the documents that are required to present to the Central Bank, this method is very archaic and needs to be addressed,” said Sampson.

A pensioner from Canada who did not want to be named said he was in the long line for about three hours in the sweltering sun.

“I find it is very unfair that proper provisions were not put in place for the elderly and they have to line up like everyone else for hours,” the pensioner added.

Vijay from Debe said he arrived at the Central Bank at 6:30am and believes the wait to change his own money is unjust and the Bank should have put a structured mechanism in place, instead of having citizens who contribute to the growth of the country, standing outside in rain or sun.

Also commenting on the issue was chief executive officer at the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce Gabriel Faria who said that recently he went to a meeting at the Central Bank and he was disappointed to see the hundreds of people standing in a line during the morning period.

“We had recommended to the Minister of Finance in writing that the commercial banks provide the service for the first three months from January to March instead of having an influx of people at the Central Bank, so if you have under $5,000 go to your personal bank, if you have more than $5,000 go to the Central Bank and if you have over a $1,000,000 go to the National Security Minister,” Faria added.

Faria noted that persons should be allowed to go to the Central Bank for a year to facilitate the exchange of the old $100, instead of the three-month period that has been granted.

Contacted for comment, Central Bank spokesperson, Nicole Crooks, said that people generally have to join a line due to the number of them coming in, but every effort is made to move the process along as quickly as possible.

Crooks noted anyone in the plaza at 3 p.m. on the designated redemption days is accommodated.

She also outlined that people are required to come into the Central Bank (and the UTC Office) with either Form A or B completed (these are available on the institution’s website) and the Central bank has assigned several staff members who are assisting both outside the bank, in guiding persons in the completion of the forms, and inside in terms of processing their applications to make the process as simple as possible.

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