Sierra Leone will launch a re-denominated currency on Friday, with banknotes denominated three minus zero, but their value will remain unchanged, the central bank said.
Central Bank Governor Kelapala Murana Kallon told Reuters that financial transactions with the West African country have been suspended since Wednesday in preparation for a re-calibration of the leone currency.
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President Julius Mada Bio was the first to use the new notes at a central bank launch event in the capital Freetown on Friday.
Mada Bio said the change was needed to simplify accounting records, reduce the amount of cash required for transactions, and address other inconveniences and inefficiencies.
“We have removed the three zeros but yesterday’s money has the same value as today’s money: new notes, same value. The value of your pension, your debt, your rent and your salary remains the same,” he posted on his Twitter feed. Said in a video made.
The change comes amid efforts to consolidate a falling lyon, which is now hovering around $13,000 a dollar.
“It’s a psychological boost to know that Leon has appreciated against the dollar, at least on the face of it,” university student Ibrahim Matia told Reuters.
But critics, including the main opposition All People’s Congress Party, say the reappraisal is confusing and has no value.
“So much uncertainty,” said the civil servant, Mohamed Koroma. “We are waiting to see where this cosmetic move takes us in the midst of the current difficult economic environment.”
The denominations of Sierra Leone banknotes are currently 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,0000 leone.