Counterfeit money raises alarm

Counterfeit money continues to be a problem in Samoa despite vigorous public awareness programmes. 

This was highlighted in the Central Bank of Samoa’s (C.B.S.) annual report for financial year 2018. 

According to the report, the Bank remained cautious and actively promoted public awareness of counterfeit banknotes. 

In doing so, the C.B.S. launched another year long media campaign, including media releases in the TV, radio and print media to combat but the number of counterfeit notes still increased. 

“The total number of counterfeit notes discovered and presented to the Central Bank by the commercial banks, retailers and members of the general public increased significantly with forty seven presented in comparison to seven in the previous year," the report reads.

“The Central Bank continues to work closely with the Police Department to assist police in counterfeit detection techniques and support with counterfeit analysis.” 

The C.B.S. says counterfeit money is not reimbursed nor compensated by the Central Bank. 

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“Therefore, the onus is on the banks and members of the public to be vigilant and alert in detecting counterfeit money.” 

Regarding the handling of currencies or tala notes, the bank says the quality of banknotes was maintained in an acceptable level during F.Y. 2018. 

“To keep currency in circulation at a high standard, the Central Bank would withdraw and destroy soiled and damaged banknotes, replacing them with new banknotes. The commercial banks continued to follow the established cash operational procedures specified in the Central Bank’s Internal Control of the Cash and Vault Operations during the year. 

“During (F.Y.) 2017-2018, a total of 9.76 million pieces of banknotes were processed, with 7.16 million banknotes reissued and 2.6 million unfit banknotes worth $60.3 million withdrawn from circulation and destroyed during 2017-2018,” says the annual report. 

The demand for banknotes and coins for the said financial year grew by 13 percent to $101.6 million from $89.6 million the year before. 

“The growth was mainly due to an increase of reissued notes during the period while new notes issued dropped slightly. 

“As a result the total cost of currency issued decreased from $2 million in 2016-2017 to $1.7 million in the financial year ending 30 June, 2018. Leaving aside small denomination coins, the $1 coin remained the most widely circulated currency unit in the country with the number of pieces circulating by the end of June 2018 increasing by 13.0 percent to 1,760,828. While the $2 coin increased by 12.0 percent to 1,182,855 pieces in 2017/18. 

“Overall, the number of pieces for all the denominations rose by 1,560,912 in the year under review.” 

The replacement of damaged banknotes is one mandate for the Central Bank. It provides services to replace banknotes which have been accidentally damaged or are unfit for circulation. 

“In 2017/18 replaced notes increased to $101,870 from $88,800 in 2016/17. The most common types of damage to banknotes are limpness, tearing or accidental burning.” 

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