The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) on Saturday 1st June unveiled new generation banknotes in a move aimed to curtail illicit financial flows which entail money laundering and tax evasion as well as corruption.
In a move that caught many by surprise, CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge announced that Kenyans have until October 31st to get rid of the current one thousand notes after President Uhuru Kenyatta unveiled new generation bank notes.
“We have assessed the grave concern our large banknotes particularly the older Sh1,000 series are being used for illicit financial flows in Kenya and other countries in the region,” CBK governor said when unveiling the new notes.
The new currency notes will be in denominations of KSh50, KSh100, KSh200, KSh500 and KSh1000.
While the KSh 1000 notes will be faced out by 1 st, CBK governor maintained that that the KSh50, KSh100, KSh200 and KSh500 notes will be phased out slowly.
The new currency notes are expected to help Kenya in the war against corruption. Countless times people have been caught with huge money sums in their homes that are presumed to be obtained through unscrupulous means. Public funds have been reported to be looted in several scenarios. The CBK governor noted that there is a lot of illicit money in circulation.
According to official data, about KSh 210 billion worth of KSh 1, 000 notes was in in 2018. A lot of this money could be lying idle somewhere as people hide their illegal wealth.
According to the CBK boss, the immediate face out of the KSh 1000 note, will help in dealing with cases of counterfeits, which have impacted the economy negatively.
The front of the banknotes bear the image of Kenyatta International Conference Center, an internationally renowned venue for exhibitions and conferences. It is also an iconic landmark. They also have a unique features. The Ksh50, Ksh100, Ksh200, Ksh500, Ksh1000 notes depict green energy, agriculture, social services, tourism and governance respectively.
Additionally, the new notes have unique features to ease the detection of counterfeits. Also worthy to mention, the new currency has been made in a way that will be easily recognized even by those visually impaired.
Following the big announcement, there have been debates regarding the new bank notes with some people lauding the move and a number of significant others having dissenting opinions.
United Kingdom High Commissioner to Kenya Nic Hailey termed the announcement as “great news” adding that looters of taxpayers’ money will have to account for the source of their money.The delegates lauded State House for the new move which they termed ‘A tough stand on corruption’.
A number of Kenyans have raised concerns whether the issue has been thought through so as to avoid the mayhem that followed after India suddenly withdrew 86 percent its currency in 2016. The surprise effort was in an attempt to have the billions of dollars worth of unaccounted wealth into the mainstream economy and curb corruption. It was designed to clamp down on tax evasion.
As a result of the surprise move, there was a currency shortage, retail sales slipped and wholesale markets were thrown into confusion. All these happened because India’s Central Bank had not completed printing new notes.
Law makers have faulted CBK for attemptying to demonetise the current legal tender. They have also pointed out that the inclusion of the image of Kenya’s first President Jomo Kenyatta on the new notes ‘violates the law.’ Human rights activist Omkiyah Omtatah spoke to the Star and he cited lack of public participation. He further mentioned that for issues with such magnitude, there is constitutional provision that the public ought to be consulted.
“The Constitution that Kenyans overwhelmingly voted for in 2010, is clear that before a directive of such a magnitude is given, the views of the people must be sought. Anything short of that contravenes the Constitution and the law and therefore null and void,” he said.
Kenyans have been anticipating for the launch of the new bank notes following the unveiling of new generation coins which took place in December 2018.
Video Courtesy: Central Bank Of Kenya
Featured Image Courtesy: The Standard