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Fiji Reviews New Coins, Notes
By Richard Giedroyc, World Coin News
April 23, 2013

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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Sticker shock? 

No one at the Reserve Bank of Fiji is willing to call it by that name, but comments recently made suggest the bank may not have been prepared for the cost of new bank notes versus the cost of producing coins. Furthermore, it appears the bank may be having a problem with what it calls discoloration on some of its latest coins as well.

According to an article published in the Feb. 28 issue of The Fiji Times newspaper, there is an “issue of early signs of discoloring for some new $1 and $2 coins despite being in circulation for almost two months.”

No details of this discoloration were explained, however both coins are composed of aluminum-bronze.

A hint regarding the discoloration problem appears in the Jan. 9 issue of The Fiji Times where Island Buses Limited Director Ravendra Kewal was quoted as saying, “Some of the drivers are not really educated and the public can fool them. The drivers are now aware of the difference,” referring to the confusion between the new $1 and $2 coins, both of which are about the same diameter and surface color. The $2 coin replaced a bank note of the same denomination early during 2013.

Kewal continued, “The $1 saqamoli should be smaller than the $2 coin so that it can be easily identified and inconveniences can be avoided. Some people can differentiate between the two coins in its new form but confusion arises after the shiny $2 coins fade.”

Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor Barry Whiteside discussed the discoloration problem in the Feb. 28 newspaper article. In that article Whiteside said he had received what he called “an initial report” from the Royal Canadian Mint, who supplies Fiji with the $1 and $2 coins.

Whiteside was quoted as saying, “Once our own assessments are completed, we will be able to make a formal announcement on the issue. We do not have such facilities in Fiji to re-color the new coins. The RBF is still in liaison with the RCM on probable remedial actions, if any.”

Whiteside continued, “The RCM has been our supplier for a number of years. They have previously supplied us with the older 1- and 2-cent coins, the new smaller and lighter coins which were issued in April 2009, and the new flora and fauna coins of all denominations which we released this year.”

RCM Senior Manager of Communications Alex Reeves is reported in the same article as saying the mint would continue to discuss the matter with the bank “as they pursued a joint analysis on the issue.”

The new coins, as well as new bank notes, to which Whiteside refers replaced coins and bank notes on which Queen Elizabeth II appeared, a controversial move politically for the Fiji government as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Comments made to the newspaper by Whiteside regarding the decision to issue polymer rather than paper composition bank notes appear to put the bank on the defense as he tries to justify the cost of producing them.

Whiteside is quoted in the Feb. 28 article as saying, “Polymer bank notes are costlier to print however it has the benefit of extended durability. Paper bank notes of higher denominations incorporate more sophisticated and expensive security features to combat counterfeiting.”

Whiteside continued, “The ability to achieve lower note cost is also attributed to economies of scale which is mostly seen in lower note denominations given that we print more.”

If economies of scale is true, then was it less expensive to produce $2 coins or bank notes? This information was not available when this article was being written.


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