The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) declined to disclose the cost of funding the controversial banknote upgrade due for release later this year.

An Access to Information (ATI) request submitted by the gleaner as the cost of the banknote redesign, first announced in Parliament by Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke, has been denied by the central bank.

“The contract for the cost of the banknote upgrade is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act,” BOJ Deputy General Counsel Alvana Johnson said on May 22. April, in response to demand.

Johnson did not say which provision of the law he was using to protect the disclosure of the cost.

The cost of the upgrade was determined based on the bids submitted, the gleaner was informed, but the details of the bids were not disclosed, nor the names of the bidders.

Moreover, the BOJ, which is responsible for maintaining the stability of the financial system, would not reveal who was awarded the contract.

Last Friday, BOJ Governor Richard Byles when contacted by the gleanersaid he could not comment on why the request was rejected, noting that it could be for legality reasons.

Clarke also denied any comments about it.

Meanwhile, the bank said the ratings upgrade will be funded from its budget.

He also said the designs were part of the technical specifications submitted by the “selected contractor” for the works.

The bank did not indicate the name of the selected winner.

“The process also involved the bank’s internal committee made up of currency experts and was approved by the Minister of Finance and the Civil Service in accordance with Section 14(1)(a) of the Bank of Jamaica,” the BOJ said.

The denial coincides with Jamaica falling five places in the World Press Freedom Index rankings.

Reporters Without Borders, based in France, ranked the country 12th out of 180 countries, up from seventh in 2021.

It also comes amid repeated concerns about the effectiveness of the Access to Information Act passed by Parliament in 2002, which gives the public access to official documents held by public authorities, subject to a number of exemptions.

In February, Jeanette Calder, executive director of the European Union co-funded Jamaica Accountability Meter Portal, revealed that nearly eight months after the entity requested information from the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation and the Department of Correctional Services , she had not received this.

The BOJ did not respond the gleanerfollowing the request for additional information sent three weeks ago.

The rollout of the upgraded tickets is expected to coincide with the country’s 60th Independence celebration.

Clarke told parliament during his presentation at the budget debate in March that the BOJ would improve the look and structure of the current notes to feature all national heroes and deceased prime ministers.

The five existing banknotes represent only two of the seven national heroes and three of the four deceased prime ministers.

Clarke said the current ratings structure, which does not allow for sustainability, has prompted the need for change.

Current denominations use a mixture of materials called substrates, while $50 and $100 bills use a hybrid substrate, a mixture of cotton and polymer. The $500, $1,000 and $5,000 bills are on patent cotton.

Citing that technical studies have shown the need for a monetary denomination between the $1,000 and $5,000 bills, Clarke announced that a new $2,000 bill, bearing the images of political rivals and by former Prime Ministers Edward Seaga and Michael Manley, is to be released. .

Manley’s family have since accused the BOJ of being insincere following Clarke’s announcement about the move.

“I consider it extremely dishonest to announce to the Jamaican public a change in the appearance of our currency and the introduction of a new note with the expression family approval when in fact some members of the families they refer to had no idea at all,” said Sarah Manley, a girl.

She said the family had no input into the design and called the move a “concocted plan”.

However, a source said the gleaner that Manley’s estate approved the design.

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Richard L. Militello