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  • World - Africa
  • Updated: July 04, 2023

Burundi: New currency Notes Attract Backlash Amid Cash Scarcity

Burundi: New currency Notes Attract Backlash Amid Cash Scarc

New currency notes attract backlash amid cash scarcity In Burundi

The newly introduced currency notes of 5,000 and 10,000 Burundian Francs have suffered a backlash from the citizens of Burundi due to the scarcity of the new currency.

The backlash comes as Burundians encounter hardship in exchanging their old notes for new ones, particularly since the expiration of the deadline in June.

Faustin Ndikumana, an economist and the head of the PARCEM think tank, says, "This is the beginning for the government to be able to start reforms, a necessary awareness to break this cultural conservatism." 

Each person wants to keep his riches at home in Burundian culture, according to Ndikumana. 

But few people are adopting this viewpoint. At least not on the markets, where a lot of people have trouble trading due to a lack of new currency. 

"Your old bills are not replaced if you don't have a bank account. It is not possible. When we don't have the means to add to an account, they force us to open one at the bank, Chantal Mugisha, a vendor at the COTEBU market, asserted.

The two denominations valued at $1.77 and $3.54 respectively, are the highest of the six in use in the nation, which has a $270 per capita GDP.

The Bank of the Republic of Burundi ascribed the change to what it termed an increase in circulation in the "informal circuit" that caused volatility in the operations of financial institutions. 

In its press release, it also mentioned how the lack of these currencies in banks had caused activity to become unstable.

As of June 7, all 5,000 and 10,000 franc notes were revoked and replaced with new ones that were dated November 7, 2022. 

Holders had a 10-day window that ended on June 17 to deposit the old notes in their accounts and, if necessary, open a bank account. The old notes were only supposed to be legal tender until June 17.

"I have 170,000 Fbu (Burundian francs, about 54.8 euros) in old banknotes here." 

"I wanted to get gas from Gatumba, but I heard they won't give me gas if I don't have new bills." 

"So I wonder how to deposit these notes in my boss's bank account and I will be forced to stay in Bujumbura because I live inside the country," says Abdoul Karim Niyonkuru, a taxi driver in Bujumbura.  

The Bank of Burundi imposed additional limits, limiting individual total cash deposits to 10 million francs ($3,543) and legal companies to 30 million francs per day and account. 

Burundi's central bank has stated that it will send agents to rural areas to help with the exchange.

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