At the launching of the new resized Bank notes last Friday at the Bank of Sierra Leone’s complex at Kingtom, the Governor Mr Sheku Sabadeen Sesay said the reason for resizing the currency was because they want them to be user friendly, durable, smaller in denomination, and easy to handle by all.
The Bank Governor said the new bank notes are in line with the President’s Agenda for Change and said the sensitization exercise will continue throughout the country to teach people how to handle the new notes.
Governor Sesay also disclosed that the new notes have put them ahead of the counterfeiters who have been forging the Le5, 000 and Le10, 000 notes in the past. “The features in these new resized notes will be extremely difficult to forge”, he said.
In his statement, he noted that the process started in 2008 to make sure that everybody whether illiterate or blind can be able to tell the difference by the size and the cricket legs on them for the visually impaired to use.
The governor stressed that the bank cannot tell how much notes are in circulation because during the war millions of Leones were taken to neighboring countries and some also got burnt. It was a worry for the bank officials he said and they decided to get these resized notes into the market so they will be able to ascertain the exact number of Leones in circulation.
Mr. Sabadeen Sesay averred that the new notes became official tender on Friday and all the Commercial Banks will now use it to pay customers and slowly withdraw the old notes. He said the old notes will still be legal tender for the next one year, after which it will become illegal.
In his own statement, the Minister of Finance Dr Samura Kamara said when the idea of resizing the notes was put forward to him he immediately supported it because of the way the bank notes currently in circulation were being handled by market women, traders and transporters.
He said it was timely and appropriate but made it clear that the new notes will in no way affect the foreign exchange rate or the value as it is the same as before. He admonished the Central Bank to continue their campaign in teaching people how to handle the new notes maintaining that every Sierra Leonean has the right as a citizen to protect the currency.
He thanked the Central Bank officials for a job well done and also praised the government for their support in making this venture a success.
Launching the new notes, President Koroma recalled the history of the Leones saying “This launching ceremony marks yet another milestone in the annals of Central Banking in Sierra Leone. “Following the attainment of independence in 1961, the country obtained monetary sovereignty with the establishment of the Bank of Sierra Leone on August 4th 1964. This development precipitated the introduction of the country’s legal tender in Leones and Cents as a replacement to the British West African Pounds and Pence”.
The President went on to state that this was a significant national development that should serve as a rallying point for strengthening our resolve to develop the country and unite the people. “The launching of these new Leone notes today should be seen in the same light”, he added.
He averred that the Leone was created as a symbol of national pride and political identity to consolidate the country’s independence. “Its judicious use and careful handling could lay a solid foundation for stabilizing our economy”. He admonished all to treat the notes with respect and care.
Regrettably he said, the handling of the national currency has been poor raising great concern not only to the bank but also to the entire nation. This he said has entailed high costs in replacement printing of soiled and mutilated notes.
President Koroma stressed that the national currency has also been subjected to increase counterfeiting particularly the Le5, 000 and Le10, 000 notes. He said he is convinced however, that the launching of these new notes will go a long way towards addressing these concerns.
Concluding the President said : “as we start our 50Th year of Independence, I now have great pleasure to formally launch the family of resized bank notes dated 27th April, 2010, in denominations of one thousand, two thousand, five thousand and ten thousand Leones”.
President Ernest Bai Koroma was then presented with a pack of all the resized notes by the Bank Governor, and the same was done to the Vice President by the Deputy Bank Governor Andrina Coker. The Finance Minister received his from a Board member Dalton Shears and the Minister of Information got his from the Director of Banking Mrs. Gibril.