The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) says it will release a batch of new notes to replace the tattered Sh50 bank currency.
CBK governor Patrick Njoroge told Parliament on Thursday the shortage will be “resolved shortly”.
“We will be releasing another set of notes from our stocks. We will release them right away,” Mr Njoroge told the National Assembly’s committee on Information, Communications and Technology (ICT).
Notes have been defaced or damaged due to poor handling, which prompted the CBK to issue regulations that provide jail terms of up to three years or a fine of Sh500,000 to those who mishandle notes and coins.
Dr Njoroge had been invited by the committee to explain the role of the CBK in oversight of payment systems, including those provided by telecommunications providers.
ICT committee chairman William Kisang sought to know why the regulator had delayed in printing new generation bank notes as provided for in the Constitution.
“Why have you taken too long to print new generational bank notes as envisaged in the Constitution. We have had complaints of shortage of Sh50 bank note and if there is, they are too old and tattered,” Mr Kisang asked.
The Constitution stipulates that the new currency should not bear the image of the President like is the case on Friday.
Dr Njoroge told MPs that a legal suit filed against De La Rue, the company that won the Sh10 billion-a-year tender had delayed the printing and release of new look bank notes.
“We would have had new bank notes to replace the dirty ones but we have legal issues. We will have clean notes once this matter is determined in court,” said Dr Njoroge.
He added the CBK was confident of winning the case because “we did the right thing for our country.”
“We have heard complaints of dirty notes. But the Sh50 note is the most popular bank note in the entire country. If you have Sh100, Sh200 and Sh500 and you want to buy something less than Sh50 from them, definitely the change will be Sh50, Sh150 and Sh450 respectively,” Dr Njoroge said.
In June, British printer De La Rue, which mints Kenyan currency at its factory in Ruaraka, Nairobi, said the bank notes will have new coat of varnish to reduce wear and tear and prolong their life in circulation.
De La Rue said it was adding the fresh coat, which will see paper money stay longer before getting defaced.