“AFTER the licking they got on Monday (in local government elections) they get bazodee and come weekend with a dollar wine.”
This was the view of Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal who said yesterday the move to replace the current $100 bill with a new polymer note was a move to distract and could have repercussions on the economy if there is no proper plan in place.
Speaking to the Express by phone, he said the Opposition has “no clue” about the Amendment to the Central Bank Act the Government is bringing today to the House of Representatives to effect the Cabinet decision to replace the current $100 bill.
“I find the timing of this most interesting, it comes hours after a shocking and massive defeat of the Government in the local government election. They are trying now to distract attention from the events of Monday last,” he said.
Moonilal recalled that the bid to remove the highest currency note was done in India and it created enormous disruptions to that economy.
“So while the intention may be good one has to always be aware what are the economic implications for businesses. Is it that everybody with a $100 bill has to go to a commercial bank and exchange it for the new polymer one? Whether it’s a coconut vendor, a nuts vendor, a taxi driver, the supermarket, hardware, everybody...a homeowner who has some cash home to do things for Christmas now have to go to the bank in a limited time and do an exchange, that will create an enormous amount of chaos and hysteria. So I can only trust that this has been thought out properly and the banking sector and the business community are prepared for this type of overnight action,” he said.
He said while National Security Minister Stuart Young may have intelligence reports suggesting that this matter may deal with money laundering and corruption, there is need to ensure there is no disruption to the economy.
Moonilal said this also speaks volumes to the Government’s inability to address crime.
“If after four-and-a-half years their answer to money laundering is replacing a hundred dollar bill, that by itself is shameless admission that they have no serious anti-crime policy to deal with money laundering because the people who have the cash will quickly move it through the business sector and have it exchanged. The people who have that kind of cash will sell the cash so they will sell a hundred dollars for $90 and get it through the system one way or the other.”
Barataria/San Juan MP Dr Fuad Khan commented yesterday that the window for phasing out the old note has to be short otherwise there is the risk of undermining the operation in its entirety.
He said the longer the current bill remains as legitimate currency, the more time and opportunity criminals will have to effectively launder it. Khan in a statement also cited the Indian example, saying that in November 2016, the Indian government announced the surprise demonetisation of their 500 and 1,000 bank notes replacing them with new polymer notes.
He suggested the PNM was attempting to “copy” this move.
Khan noted that the Modi administration in India claimed that this action would curtail the shadow economy and crack down on the use of illicit and counterfeit cash to fund illegal activity.
“The sudden nature of the announcement and the prolonged cash shortages in the weeks that followed created significant disruption throughout the Indian economy,” he stated.
Khan said there were many people in T&T who were currently unemployed, due to either layoffs or as a result of the contracting economy and this would place an additional burden on businesses already struggling to maintain their operations and retain their current workforce.