Sierra Leone launches re-denominated currency to strengthen value

Critics and the opposition say the re-denomination of the leone is confusing and adds no value.

Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio
Sierra Leone's President Julius Maada Bio is seen at the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government 54th Ordinary Session in Abuja, Nigeria December 22, 2018 [File: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters]

Sierra Leone is launching a re-denominated currency, knocking three zeroes off bank notes but keeping their value unchanged, its central bank has said.

Financial transactions with the West African country have been suspended since Wednesday in preparation for the re-calibration of the leone currency, Central Bank Governor Kelfala Murana Kallon told Reuters.

President Julius Maada Bio will be the first person to use the new notes at a central bank launch event in the capital, Freetown, later on Friday.

Authorities have said the change will make it easier to carry cash and use it for payments.

It also came amid efforts to strengthen the tumbling leone, which is now fluctuating at about 13,000 to the dollar.

“It is a psychological boost knowing that the leone has appreciated against the dollar, at least on the face of it,” university student Ibrahim Mattia told Reuters.

But critics, including the main opposition All People’s Congress party, said the re-denomination was confusing and added no value.

“So much uncertainty,” said a middle-aged civil servant, Mohamed Koroma. “We wait to see where this cosmetic move leads us to amid the present hard economic climate.”

The denominations of Sierra Leone’s bank notes are currently 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,0000 leone.

Source: Reuters