The new Zambian currency, Kwacha and Ngwee, has been launched with a call on the business community to keep the prices of goods and services unchanged.
Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda unveiled the new currency at a colourful ceremony held in Lusaka at the new Government Complex yesterday.
The new currency comprises of six notes with features such as the African Fish Eagle, coat of arms, freedom statue, trees and animals while there are four coins minted with a coat of arms, a bird and animals representing the abundant wildlife and tourism potential of the country.
The new currency becomes legal tender on 1st January 2013 and will circulate side by side with the old currency for six months to allow the public to completely switch to the new currency.
In his key note address, the Finance Minister observed that the steps taken by the Bank of Zambia to prepare the country for the currency change will proceed with minimal or preferably no hitches.
Mr Chikwanda noted that the rebasing of the kwacha was aimed at addressing the inflationary spirals which over the years caused the currency to depreciate to intolerable levels which were not cost neutral in terms of the economy.
The Minister further stated that decision to rebase was premised on government’s conviction to restore the intrinsic value of the currency as a medium of exchange by bringing normalcy to the numeration of the local currency.
He said it is an internationally accepted practice to rebase a currency during the periods of low and stable inflation stating that in the last five years, inflation has generally taken a downward trend in Zambia.
The Finance Minister dispelled assertions and misconceptions by some circles of society that the rebasing was a gimmick by the new government to nab unscrupulous members of society adding that it will instead lead to greater confidence in the currency and also simplify book keeping, accounting records and facilitate easier business transactions.
Mr Chikwanda however noted that the rebasing of the currency will neither cause revaluation nor devaluation of the kwacha meaning that prices of goods and services will not change and encouraged the general public to accept the new notes and coins.
And Bank of Zambia (BOZ) Governor Michael Gondwe announced that following the launch of the new family of notes and coins, the Bank of Zambia has made available the currency in all commercial banks and agencies throughout the country.
Dr Gondwe assured the public that sufficient security features have been embedded into the new high value K100 notes to make them sufficiently different from the current K100.
He noted that the BOZ team discovered during sensitization campaigns that many people were of the view that the introduction of the new high value K100 note would be confused with the current K100 note.
The launch was attended by senior government officials, diplomats accredited to Zambia, officials from both the notes printing company, G&D of German and South African mining company and CEOs of Banks and Public and Private Institutions.