Bank of Jamaica launches new series of six banknotes

The Bank of Jamaica is launching an all-new series of six banknotes in the last quarter of this year, which will feature a $2,000 denomination for the first time.

The announcement was made in Parliament on March 8, followed by a press release from the Bank of Jamaica on March 10. The images in the new series differ significantly in appearance from the old, and were featured on a poster bearing the logos of Bank of Jamaica and banknote printer De La Rue.

The $2,000 note is added to facilitate cash transactions. The bank says the current reliance on the $1,000 note, which is worth US$6.53, is excessive. It is expected that the $2,000 note will effectively replace $1,000 notes, as fewer individual notes will be needed in cash transactions. This will also result in lower costs for the bank, as the printing cost is the same for each note, depending on the bank.

The other objectives of the new banknotes are the reinforcement of security to fight against counterfeiting; better meet the needs of the visually impaired by changing the substrate to polymer so that the tactile characteristics are not as likely to degrade with use; ensure a clear distinction between denominations by using distinct colors for each; and provide cost savings to the bank by printing on a more durable polymer. The bank predicts that the use of polymer will increase the average circulation life of banknotes by at least 50%, resulting in lower order quantities and less frequent ordering, according to the bank. In addition, the bank said, arrangements are made that when the banknotes need to be destroyed, the disposal of the polymer waste does not compromise the environment.

Fair trading principles are another objective. Despite De La Rue’s obvious involvement, the bank claims that all features of the note are readily available on the banknote manufacturing market. This, the bank says, prevents it “from locking itself into a situation where a single printer is able to provide a particular feature on any denomination. This is essential to allow flexibility in the choice of printer, thereby ensuring full competition and ensuring that the Bank obtains the best value for money.

The subjects on the faces of the notes are all national heroes and deceased prime ministers. Current banknotes feature only two of the seven designated as national heroes and three of the four deceased prime ministers. To represent the 11 eligible individuals, each denomination but one will feature two individuals, matched based on their contributions to Jamaica in the following categories: freedom fighters; Black Empowerment/Pan-Africanist; and Nation Fathers and Nation Builders. Marcus Garvey, who was previously on a 50-cent note, will appear as a single subject on the $100 note, given his status as Jamaica’s first “national hero”. No person will be “demoted” to a denomination of lower value than where they currently appear.

The $50 note will feature national heroes Paul Bogle and George William Gordon, who appeared on Jamaica’s original banknotes but now don’t. The $500 note will depict 18th and 19th century rebellion leaders Nanny of the Maroons and Sam Sharpe. The $1,000 note will show Prime Minister Sir Alexander Bustamante and Prime Minister Norman Manley, who were featured on Jamaica’s original banknotes. Contemporaries and political foes Michael Manley and Edward Seaga will be on the new $2,000 note, and former prime ministers Donald Sangster and Hugh Shearer will be on the $5,000 note.

The back of the notes will continue to feature Jamaican images that exist on the current issue. The new $2,000 note will carry the photograph of a group of children from Central Branch Elementary School (circa 1968) that previously appeared on the reverse of the now demonetized $2 note from 1969 to 1994.

Jamaican social media is already recording complaints that Bob Marley and Usain Bolt are not among the winners.

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