Md Joynal Abedin Khan
The Bangladesh Bank has stopped supplying new banknotes from its head office in Motijheel in the capital to general people ahead of Eid-ul Fitr in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus.
However, holidaymakers can collect new banknotes, popularly used as ‘Eidi’ or Eid tips, as the central bank has provided the notes to cash counters and ATM booths of commercial banks and its 10 branch offices.
Long before the lockdown, BB took the decision to release fresh banknotes of various denominations worth Tk 30,000 crore ahead of Eid to check the rush for collecting fresh banknotes to its head office.
“The clients can collect new banknotes from commercial banks’ cash counters and ATM booths, maintaining the health safety guidelines of the Covid-19 ahead of Eid-ul Fitr,” said Md. Golam Mostafa, General Manager of the Currency Management Department of the Bangladesh Bank.
“The central bank released new banknote worth Tk 30,000 crore in the market even before the start of the ongoing lockdown. But new banknotes are now available at ATM booths and banks’ cash counters,” the BB official told The Business Post on Tuesday.
The BB decided to release the new banknotes due to the rise in demand for the fresh notes of various denominations ahead of the upcoming Eid amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, he added.
The central bank may supply more banknotes of Tk 5,000 crore, if necessary, said an official.
Habibur Rahman, Joint Director of the Bangladesh Bank, said that the demand for new banknotes remains high during Eid as kids love to get fresh notes as tips and new dresses from their near and dear ones for Eid celebration.
During a visit to currency vendors on footpaths in the capital, it was found that people collecting fresh banknotes in exchange for extra charges to avoid the hazard of coronavirus.
Abu Musa, a banknote vendor, said, “The banknotes of Tk 10, Tk 20 and Tk 50 denominations are sold at higher prices by the money vendors and we charge Tk 50 to Tk 100 for a wad of such banknotes.”
A section of staffer in the central bank and some other private banks allegedly act in collusion with banknote vendors so that they continue running their illegal banknote business, he said.
Shirin Akter, who works as a government employee in the city’s Khilgaon area, told The Business Post on Monday, “I bought currency notes worth Tk 5,000 of Tk 10, Tk 20 and Tk 50 denominations after paying an extra Tk 300.”
Hafizur Rahman, another city dweller, said, “Eid means happiness. Giving fresh notes as Eid tips to the near and dear ones has become part of the festival celebrated at the end of Ramadan. So, we always go home with fresh notes. It is easier for me to collect new banknotes from the footpaths.”
Seeking anonymity, a vendor in front of Bangladesh Bank’s head office in the city, said, “During Eid our business booms with the rush of holidaymakers. The business gets momentum before the celebrations of Eid-ul Fitr.”
But he was reluctant to make any comment on how he managed the bundles of fresh banknotes for selling to people ahead of Eid— the greatest religious festival of the Muslim community.