Sri Lanka calls bids to mint nearly a billion coins

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has called bids to mint 970 million coins including 10 rupee coins amid a severe shortage of 10 rupee notes and some availability of s 10 rupee coin which are worth less after a currency a collapse but are bulky and heavy to carry around.

The central bank called bids from mints for 190 million one rupee coins, 175 million 2 rupee coins, 230 million 5 rupee coins and 375 million 10 rupee coins.

"It’s a disaster," M Ranasinghe, a business executive said. "There are very few 5 or 10 rupee coins. But there are 20 rupee notes."

"The 10 rupee coin is not practical at all. We cannot carry coins in our purse anymore. When a cashier asks for 10 rupee I give the credit card."

The existing bulky 10 rupee coins weighs about 8.6 grams and a dozen such coins weighs more than 100 grams.

In contrast the US dime (one tenth of a US dollar), which is worth more on current exchange rates weighs only 2.26 grams.

The dime has a diameter of 17.9 millimetres and is 1.35 millimetres thick compared to the 10 rupee coins which has a diameter of 26.4 millimetres 2.1 millimetres thick.

The rupee collapsed from 131 to 145 during the past year as the central bank printed money to delay rate increases triggering a balance of payments crisis, on top of a currency collapse in 2011/2013 which sent the rupee careening from 112 to 131.

A US quarter, which is worth about four times the 10 rupee coins at currency exchange rates, weighs only 5.6 grams.

Sri Lanka’s five rupee coins is almost similar in size to a sterling pound coins.

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Because the coins are heavy and is worth less now, some users dump them at home instead of carrying them around. A few years ago, the central bank made the one rupee and 50 rupee coins smaller, giving much relief to consumers.

Due to the lack of 10 rupee notes, (or a 30 rupee note) shopkeepers are now giving change in 20 rupee notes, which has become a popular note. .

The change for 80 rupees is now four 20 rupee notes, from the earlier 50, 20 and 10 rupees. For any good price at 90 rupees, shop keepers ask for a non-existent 10 rupee note or coin so that they can give back 20 rupees in change. (Colombo/Aug12/2015)

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