New Twists on New Currency Notes

The Barriers Facing Implementation of New Currency Notes in Kenya

June 1st serves as a prominent day in the Kenyan calendar. 56 years ago, the country attained means of self-rule from Britain. The country now had a Prime Minister and plans to reconstruct its governance structures began, in earnest. However, this year’s edition of Madaraka Day celebrations went beyond the usual itinerary. The government, through Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), announced a directive to introduce new currency notes. CBK also announced plans to phase Kshs. 1000 notes. While such a decision is more of a monetary issue, events in the past 2 days suggest that the decision has attracted visible political, legal and civil responses. The Brief takes you through an analysis of reactions that have come up in the last 48 hours.

The introduction of the new currency notes is an effect of constitutional provisions on currency reviews. The components of these statutes communicate that the CBK is obligated to review the state of currency notes from time to time. Amongst the changes, as advised by the 2010 constitution, including the transition from a human face kind of images to portraits that reflect diverse Kenyan themes. The 2nd factor works around conducting public participation prior to activating such a constitutional decision. The third motivational factor, beyond constituional advisee, lies on discouraging the hoarding of bank notes in non-banking environments. It is believed that corrupt elements and rogue economic saboteurs avoid formalized systems of money management as a way of evading trails. The new currency note, would thus, inject cash into the formal economy and discourage corruption. The various reactions, across the country, are premised on the reasons informing the currency change.

Politically, and as usual, politicians have shared their views on the CBK move. On Sunday, June 2nd, while attending a church service, politicians allied to the Deputy President lauded the move and even called for shorter deadlines to convert the notes. The CBK had given cash users up to October 1st to make a change on all 1000 notes under their position. Political analysts, however, view this move as a subtle and sarcastic way to deflect effects. Other politicians, in the same event, alleged that the change was aimed at politically hurting Dr. William Ruto. The combination of such responses displays division in the absorption of the President’s directive.

From a legal and civil perspective, the responses based their reactions on lack of public participation and the inclusion of Jomo Kenyatta’s image in the new notes. Activist Okiya Omtatah has already filed a case seeking a legal interpretation on the portraiture perspective. He insists that the new notes should bear the face of any individual as prescribed by law. EALA MP, Hon. Simon Mbugua, equally turned to the courts citing lack of public participation in the implementation of the new directive. He also referenced the use of inclusion of Jomo Kenyatta’s image as part of the portrait that features the Kenyatta International Conference Center (KICC). He wants the courts to halt the process terming it as prejudicial to the economy

Some of the proposed currency notes

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More reactions are expected even as CBK Governor, Dr. Patrick Noroge insists that the plan will be rolled out as scheduled. Keep it here for details on emerging events around this issue.

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