January 27, 2016 By Jonathan Abass Kamara
Economists and the business community in Sierra Leone have raised eyebrows on the missing cent coins. The economic value of the cents as reflected in payment vouchers to receivers from exchange bureaus has always been debatable and questionable. Nobody is talking about the long existing and current situation. Not even the Bank of Sierra Leone.
For us in the little town of Mateboi, we want to draw the attention of both the electronic and print media to demand an answer or explanation as to what is happening to the invisible cent coins: If no longer an economic value, let it be removed from payment and receiving vouchers and receipts from Exchange Bureaus etc.
Sierra Leone’s colonial Pounds, Shillings and Pence had its value until 1978 when the late President Siaka Probyn Stevens delinked the currency to Leones and cents. The Bank of Sierra Leone in 1979 minted a new design of the twenty cents coin, which was already in circulation. The coin bears the effigy of the President Dr. Siaka Stevens and has legal tender status. By then, the Central Bank announcement said, the new coin will circulate side by side with the old coins which bear the effigy of the first Prime Minister of Sierra Leone, Sir Milton Margai.
The design of the old coin, on one side, carries the effigy of the President with surrounding inscription “Unity Freedom and Justice – Dr. Siaka Stevens”, while the other side bears the national crest and the value in figures with a surrounding inscription REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE TWENTY CENTS 1978.
Having deliberated on the prevailing circumstance, one would be tempted to ask the very many questions to the hiccups we now see in receiving money sent to us from friends and relatives abroad to collect from Exchange Bureaus. How many of our pupils and university students have really seen cent coins with their naked eyes? If not in circulation, why still maintain it in payment vouchers? Are these coins in our museum? Is it comfortable to be telling stories to our tourists as to why the coin cents are not in use? These and many more answers to the questions are now a concern and need an explanation as it is an ocean depth that needs an urgent exploration.