HAVANA, Sept. 9th. Cuba will once again manufacture high-denomination banknotes that will be put into circulation this month to alleviate the cash crisis suffered by the Island. The information was revealed to the official press by an official from the Banco Popular de Ahorro (BPA) in the town of Santa Fe, on the Isle of Youth, which also assured that ATMs will once again issue tickets “24 hours a day.”
Interviewed by the Victoria newspaper, Ronald Molina, commercial manager of the BPA in that pine community, explained that the authorities were taking “a group of measures” to “stabilize the situation” of shortage of banknotes throughout the Island.
However, in a tour of the banks and ATMs located in the areas of El Vedado and Nuevo Vedado in Havana, 14ymedio asked several clients and workers if they were aware of the issuance of new banknotes in September. The answer was negative in all cases.
“I have not heard anything about new bills, and we need them, with how difficult it is to meet the needs of the population”
“I haven’t heard anything about new bills, and we need them, with how difficult it is to meet the needs of the population,” said one of the employees of Banco Metropolitano, located at 23, between Malecón and P. “The queues every day to withdraw at the ATM are still immense,” he continued.
The ignorance that prevails in Havana bank branches contrasts with the security of Molina, who guarantees that the new banknotes will soon be available.
However, he did not specify whether they will have the same format as the 100 pesos printed this April which, although they retained the characteristics of the previous ones, have a different paper and did not present the reliefs or the Braille system for the blind, so their printing could have been less expensive.
However, he added that the country tries at all costs not to “resort to printing very high denominations,” but will continue manufacturing those that already exist, where the largest bill is the 1,000 pesos.
Although the official did not clarify the cause of this reluctance, recent statements from the Central Bank of Cuba (BCC) and the Ministry of Economy and Planning indicate that it could be the difficulties that the State presents in covering the high cost of production. of the currency, since the higher the denomination of the note, the higher its manufacturing cost.
With the increase in electronic transactions, “the currency used in the manufacture of physical currency can be used for other priorities”
This August, in a broadcast on the Mesa Redonda program, the president of the BCC, Joaquín Alonso, alluded to the advantages of the country’s banking system and pointed out that with the increase in electronic transactions “the currency used in the manufacture of physical currency can be allocated to other priorities.
Similar comments were also made by the Minister of Economy, Alejandro Gil, last May, when he admitted in front of Parliament that printing and storing money was extremely expensive and that there was little capacity to satisfy the population’s demand for cash.
The Cuban economist Pedro Monreal then explained on his 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 pesos.
“With inflation and devaluation, more bills are needed to buy the same product or service, or new bills with higher denominations,” said Monreal, who pointed out the cost of printing as a problem for an economy as precarious as Cuba’s.
Asked by Victoria about the low liquidity of ATMs and whether this situation responded to a national experiment or a “strategy” of the Government to force users to resort to electronic payment methods, Molina was elusive.
He responded that, with the inclusion of MSMEs in the economic panorama, the Island’s high denomination bills have stopped returning to the banks.
According to the manager, these companies “handle large amounts of cash and need it to buy from other economic actors” so they have had to hoard more money that the State has not been able to replace.
He also added that with “bankization” this problem is alleviated for MSMEs, which “temper” many problems of daily life, although he acknowledged that the new measure does not “speed up their businesses.”
Among the Havana residents interviewed by 14ymedio, many agreed that for months banks have only operated with low denomination bills that do not usually exceed 100 pesos.
This Friday, at the 23rd and J branch of Banco Metropolitano, a client complained that they had given her 3,000 pesos in 20-peso bills.
The cashier, a little impatient, explained that those were the bills she had available. “And you don’t know how difficult it is to get large bills. I wish we had them and then we wouldn’t have to come until Sundays to refill the ATMs,” the official stated.
In another branch on the corner of Marino and Conill, in Nuevo Vedado, this Friday customers could only withdraw 1,000 pesos at the only ATM that worked and the same amount if they used the cashier service.
The bills that were being issued were 10 pesos and the annoyance ran through the long line that began to form before dawn.
A man who deposited 15,000 pesos was a relief for the branch employees because “the money was already running out and at least with that they were able to withdraw some more clients,” said a worker.
To make matters worse, the ATM had a problem with the number zero key, which lengthened the entire process and canceled many operations.
Although for months the press and the Government have been promoting banking as an alleviation of several economic problems on the Island, Cubans continue to show distrust in the transition to virtual payments and prefer to manage their assets in cash.