Issued Jointly by the Central Bank of Iraq and the Coalition Provisional Authority
January 15, 2004
SADDAM-FREE DINAR BECOMES IRAQ’S OFFICIAL CURRENCY
Iraqi currency exchange ends today
Iraq’s new Saddam-free banknotes have officially replaced its old, easy-to-counterfeit money, following a three-month exchange period which ends today.
More than 10000 tonnes of redundant and worthless notes bearing the image of captured dictator Saddam Hussein, are now to be destroyed.
By contrast the new currency, illustrated with scenes depicting Iraq’s important scientific contributions, its history and landscape and its economic life is steadily appreciating in value. Since October 15th, the start of the Iraqi Currency Exchange (ICE), the new dinar’s worth has risen by 25%.
Marking the formal end to ICE with a reminder of the programme’s purpose the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq Ahmed Salman Jaburi said:
“The new dinar is a real improvement on the old. It’s secure – its many visible and invisible security features make it very hard to fake – and because of this it has the Iraqi public’s confidence.
“A secure currency will provide a firm foundation for Iraq’s future economic growth.”
Praising both bank staff around the country and Coalition workers for their part in their programme, he said:
“It’s thanks to the thousands of people who have worked with the Central Bank of Iraq - bank managers and their staff nationwide, Coalition planners and economists and Iraqi and Coalition security forces – that the exchange has been a success.”
Expert planning and organization of the exchange programme – a huge and complex logistical operation – meant that new currency was printed and being distributed to banks around Iraq less than six months post-conflict.
Underlining the speed and efficacy with which the exchange was effected Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) administrator Ambassador L Paul Bremer said:
“Less than a year into reconstruction Iraq has completed what it took 3 years to begin in post-WW2 Germany.
“Rebuilding Iraq’s ruined economy is a key priority for the Coalition – a new currency to replace the discredited old one was a necessary early move.
“With the new dinar now wholly in place a line has been drawn under Iraq’s recent economic past and the focus shifted to its economic future.”
Iraqi Currency Exchange: The Facts
The Coalition Provisional Authority announced its intention to work with the Central Bank of Iraq to introduce a new Iraqi currency on 7th July 2003, following consultation with Iraqi leaders and officials.
3 months of planning and preparations followed.
DeLaRue began printing in late July, following agreement that the new notes would be based on a pre-existing design (from the pre-Saddam Iraqi currency), the Swiss dinar (still in use in the Kurdish area at that point).
The first shipment of the new currency arrived in Iraq by plane on 17th September 2003.
Security for the exchange – including a guard force to protect money en route to bank branches and an Iraqi security force presence at those branches - was fully operational on October 1st 2003.
The exchange itself began on October 15th and ended on January 15th 2003.
It is expected that bank vaults around the country, many completely filled with sacks of old Saddam dinars, will be cleared by the end of January 2003.
The Central Bank will complete the verification and destruction of old notes a few weeks after that.
A ‘why, what, how, where, when?’ public information campaign in September and October 2003, saw the nationwide distribution of 375 000 posters in two designs, and 4.5m handbills in 3 designs, including 1.9 million in outlying areas via Oil For Food channels (graphics available on request)
In September and early October 2003 a currency exchange roadshow visited cities and towns in 13 Iraqi provinces (governorates) – representatives of the Central Bank of Iraq and Coalition officials met with hundreds of community leaders to discuss the exchange process and answer questions.
The new notes were airfreighted to Baghdad in 28 747-loads of about 90 tonnes each.
A fleet of 4 smaller aircraft distributed the cash in bulk to regional centres.
Iraqi armoured vans and a fleet of 40 large trucks delivered cash to individual bank branches.
To date road convoys have made more than 1000 return journeys delivering new currency and picking up old.
Thousands of bank tellers in 250 branches around the country have worked overtime and Fridays (earning appropriate bonuses), to effect the currency swap.
1000 of these staff attended training courses in September and early October 2003 and themselves trained other staff.
Around 700 staff at the Central Bank of Iraq are involved with managing the programme or checking or destroying old currency.
500 Arabic-speaking Fijian ex-soliders have been employed to help guard the new dinars during the exchange programme. They have travelled all over Iraq with delivery and pick-up convoys.
Around 4000 Iraqis have provided security at bank branches nationwide – both bank guards and police.
A dozen Coalition experts – logisticians, security advisors, economists, bankers – have worked full-time, in-country with the Central Bank of Iraq on the exchange but many more have provided advice on particular aspects of the programme.
Weights and measures
To date around 4.5 trillion new Iraqi dinars ($3 billion) are estimated to be in circulation.
A full box of the new notes (as carried into bank vaults around Iraq) weighs a backbreaking 110lb.
Around one-third of the 10000 tonnes-plus of old currency (around 300,000 sacks) gathered in the course of the exchange has now been verified (checked) and incinerated.
Given that ICE teams have made hundreds of deliveries and pick-ups around the country in the last two months, the number of incidents has been small.
Most significantly there were five successive attacks (IEDs, RPGs, small arms fire) in November 2003 in Samarra, culminating on 30th when two convoys were ambushed and fighting between insurgents and Coalition troops ensued. Despite enemy engagement the convoys both delivered to and picked up from their banks as planned during lulls in firing.
The ICE team has sustained no fatalities to date but there have been 11 casualties, 7 of whom were back at work almost immediately and 4 of whom left Iraq to convalesce.
No currency has been lost in the course of any such incident.
The Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) will meet the estimated $200m total cost of the exchange.
Printing the high-quality, hard-to-counterfeit notes with their many sophisticated security features cost around $130 million.
Operational costs including security, transportation, so-called ‘life support’ – for example, accommodating and feeding guards – and necessary purchases – eg radios, telephones, generators, UV counterfeit detectors – totalled around $70m.
Notes to Editor
2. Contact: Karen Triggs, in the CPA Public Affairs Office, 1-914-822-5001 or visit the Office of Public Relations at the Central Bank of Iraq.