Sunday 5 April, 2020

Supermarkets running out of change as customers cash in old $100s

Photo by Darlisa Ghouralal.

Photo by Darlisa Ghouralal.

Supermarkets are beginning to feel knock-on effects as the country transitions to using polymer $100 notes.

Loop News understands customers have been unable to get the new bills through ATMs and many have taken to using the supermarkets to dump their bills by purchasing small items and paying with $100 notes.

Head of the Supermarkets’ Association Rajiv Diptee told Loop News that grocery owners are under pressure as their change is being used up quickly and they are receiving less than the requested amounts from the banks to replace their float.

He said a number of supermarket owners have reported “abnormally high” numbers of hundred dollar bills coming in, with instances of counterfeit bills also having been received at some establishments.

He noted that in some cases, $1 bills have been acid-treated to look like $100 bills, while shields have been painted on others to appear authentic as fraudsters also rush to dump their forged bills ahead of the December 31 demonetisation deadline.

Diptee said while the Association respects the law and understands the changeover was done with the interest of the public in mind, many feel as though it was insensitive to the business community to roll out a new polymer bill at Christmas time.

He said business owners have not had sufficient time to prepare as they only learned about the new bill coming on stream last Thursday.

He noted that this poses a challenge for those who still have to order new stock for their business.

The Supermarket Association President said there should have been some consideration given to the business community, especially given the short timeframe ahead of demonetisation and the time of year.

"There should have been a grace period for businesses to deposit the sums of money collected from sales closer to the deadline." 

Diptee said the major concern of the Association is that banks would not accept their bills on January 1, 2020.

He argued that supermarket owners would be forced to rush same day deposits if customers are still coming in with the old bills on December 30 and 31.

In this regard, the Association has advised supermarkets to cut off accepting the "old" bills on December 27 to give them sufficient time to deposit their cash. 

"We're not mandating, only advising that supermarkets cut off receiving the old bills by December 27 as it is a reasonable enough timeframe for them to get their money to the banks."

He said the Association was left with no choice but to do so as they will not be able to make deposits of the old bills on January 31. 

While there has been no indication that an extension would be granted to allow businesses to bring in their old bills after December 31, the Act No. 22 of 2019 (to amend the Proceeds of Crime Act, Chap. 11:27 and the Central Bank Act, Chap 79:02) states that the Minister of Finance may "extend the date in any case that he considers appropriate to do so".

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