April 8, 2014 – Sri Lanka faces a shortage of coins and, according to the Central Bank’s Governor of Sri Lanka, Nivard Cabraal, this is due to the fact that many pilgrims leave masses of coins in Buddhist and Hindu shrines and temples as offerings especially abroad. Mr Cabraal estimates that over 20 tons of coins have been taken to India and is now trying to get them back without hurting the religious feelings of his compatriots more than necessary.
As for coins deposited at religious places in Sri Lanka the bank plans to send out officials who will exchange the coins for banknotes. Additionally the bank’s governor has suggested that the temples may introduce ‘tap-and-pray’ systems permitting the pilgrims to pay without cash.
However, another reason for Sri Lanka’s coin shortage is certainly that the country’s banking system is still at the beginning and people tend to hoard coins at home instead of bringing the money to the bank. According to the media the government estimates that some 2 billion coins are being kept away from the banks by storing them in secret places. In order to stop this practice the Central Bank has even started a campaign: people who take their hoarded money to a bank are promised to receive a collection fee.
You can read more about this development at Numismaster …
… and Sunday Times.