Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand wrote to retails banks warning them that there will be a shortage on 20 cent coins (NZ$0.20) leading up to Christmas. They have now announced that they have distributed 4.75 million new twenty cent coins in the past week alone “…close to the number issued in a typical year.”

Ten million new coins are expected to arrive in the next few days.

The Reserve Bank is wondering where all the new coins went, just five weeks after the new design was first introduced. Brian Lang, currency manager for the Reserve Bank, said: “The pattern of demand for new coins has been markedly different to that for the old coins.” He suggests that people are keeping them in jars, like the old design coins.

Some stores are already unable to give out twenty cent coins as they don’t have any according to the Newmarket Business Association.

Mr Lang said: “To put this into perspective, by 30 November, the Bank had issued almost as many 20c coins (49.6m) as 10c coins (53.0m). In the past issue of 20 cent coins would normally have been about half the amount of 10 cent coins.”

The head of Newmarket Business Association, Cameron Brewer, said: “…the Reserve Bank told us that they’d done a lot of work and that everything was going to be just fine. Well here we are just five weeks into the new coins and only days away from the Christmas rush, and the country’s running out of its own currency.”

Mr Lang said: “The Bank has sufficient supplies of 10c and 50c coins for several years’ normal issues.”

“…tens of millions of the old 20 cent pieces sit idle because they are no longer legal tender,” Mr Brewer said referring to the old ‘silver’ coins that were used before the introduction of new coins.

The Reserve Bank still doesn’t know why the pattern of demand of twenty cent coins has changed.

“… such a staggering miscalculation by the Reserve Bank should never have happened,” Mr Brewer said.

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