Honourable Junior Minister of Education, Ms Nicolette Henry, Governor, Bank of Guyana, Deputy Governor, Bank of Guyana, Members of the Board of Bank of Guyana, Other staff of the Bank, Members of the Press, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It gives me great pleasure to be with you, today, on this momentous occasion. Momentous in two senses: first that we are celebrating 50 years of being an independent nation. It was this month, in 1966, that our people, after years of struggle, were finally able to shed the yoke of colonialism and become masters and mistresses of our own destiny. As I said in my 2016 Budget Speech, there is lots for which we should be proud; despite trials and tribulations, difficulties and challenges, we recorded signal successes in every area of endeavour. Fifty years as an independent state is indeed a significant milestone in the history of our country and should be commemorated in unique ways.
Which brings us to the second reason why this occasion is auspicious – the launch of a fifty dollar Banknote and two Commemorative coins; a fitting way to expand the country’s numismatic collection while at the same time celebrating our Golden Jubilee of Independence.
Just months before our country gained political independence, the Bank of Guyana was established as a part of the new infrastructure that was necessary to facilitate the development process in our country. Our sovereign notes and coins, which were first issued back in 1965, are prominent symbols of our nationhood.
The launch of this new banknote and commemorative coins is a fitting reminder of the role of the Bank of Guyana in the development process in Guyana. As the issuer of the country’s currency, the Bank is expected to conduct periodic currency reviews and implement appropriate currency reform to the existing currency structure. the Bank is also tasked with influencing the volume of currency in circulation, actions that are at the heart of controlling inflation and promoting macroeconomic stability.
Let me, therefore, hasten to say that the circulation of this new banknote will have no impact on the volume of currency in circulation and will in no way lead to high inflation, since the government has a sound monetary and fiscal policy framework in place to preserve the value of the currency.
Ladies and gentlemen, although technology has delivered alternative methods of payments, such as credit and debit cards, mobile money and smart phone apps, Guyana remains a cash- based economy, in which the majority of economic transactions are conducted using cash. Individuals, therefore, carry around large sums of cash which pose a risk to their safety. This fact is exemplified in the spate of robberies over the years. Cash- based economies also face the threat of money laundering activities. The time is, therefore, opportune for the Bank to take a more aggressive approach in their financial literacy campaign, particularly targeting residents in rural communities.
I assume that a lot of effort has gone into the production of this new banknote, as consideration had to be given to issues such as quality and design of the note, security features, and timing of introduction and acceptability of the banknote. I want to use this occasion to thank the project team, consisting of the staffs of Bank of Guyana and the Mint of Norway for a job well done.
Ladies and gentlemen, the symbols on the commemorative note and coins are distinctively Guyanese. The two Commemorative coins are similar in design. The 50th Independence Anniversary logo, featuring our national animal, the jaguar, is depicted on the reverse side of the coins, while the obverse side features Guyana’s Coat of Arms, one of the original symbols of Independence.
The design of the $50 Banknote also celebrates Guyana’s nationhood. It features the 50th Independence Anniversary logo as well as the National Flag, a Map of Guyana and snippets of the National Anthem – the latter being very apt considering the number of people who seem not to know its words. I think it can be rightfully said that this note captures beauty that is uniquely Guyanese.
Let me conclude by extending greetings to the staff of the Bank of Guyana and the People of Guyana as we celebrate the country’s Golden Jubilee of Independence. Three cheers to 50 years! May Guyana continue to grow in strength and our enjoy prosperous lives! In the words of our patriotic song:
“Onward, upward may we ever go!
Day by day in strength and beauty grow.
Till at length each of us may show
What Guyana’s sons and daughters can be”.