BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (Thursday  30th May 2019) – This week, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) unveiled the first note in the family of new polymer notes- the EC$50, and among those pleased with the new Eastern Caribbean cash is President of the St. Kitts Society for the Blind Rockliffe Bowen.

Yesterday morning (Wednesday), the bank conducted a regional media launch at the ECCB Agency Office in Grenada with video conference connections to its headquarters located in St.Kitts as well as other agency offices.

“Fellow citizens and residents of the ECCU [Eastern Caribbean Currency Unit], your new notes are considerably better hence the tagline of our public education campaign: Cleaner, Safer, Stronger. Moreover, they are aesthetically pleasing. Above all, they are a symbol of regional accomplishment, and when we use them every day, we must never forget that…,” commented ECCB Governor Timothy Antoine speaking live from the Spice Isle.

As informed by the ECCB, these banknotes are produced from a thin transparent and flexible plastic film made from a versatile and complex material.

The EC polymer notes will be put into circulation this year starting with the new $50 come next month (June) followed by the $100, $20 and $10 around August/September while the $5 is expected to be issued in August/September 2020.

The new $50 bears the image of the late ECCB Governor Sir K. Dwight Venner. At the launch event, widow Lady Lynder Venner was presented an encapsulated note.

Antoine outlined a “very important” incorporated a feature of the new notes which are “raised bumps to make it easy for the blind and visually impaired to handle their money and their business.”

As understood, the bumps, described as a unique tactile feature, have been used instead of braille for those blind and visually impaired because the ECCB recognizes that not all individuals in its member countries are able to read braille, and so common shapes have been used that everyone can recognize.

Those shapes are: circle ($5), X ($10), rectangle ($20), triangle ($50) and square ($100).

Bowen, during an exclusive interview with this reporter, stated: “I think it’s a very significant moment this morning in terms of launching the currency because it would [soon] minimise the problems that persons who are blind and visually impaired have encountered in the past in coming into contact with dishonest people so this initiative now will enable us; We’ll be able to detect the notes by ourselves with the different denominations and I want to say thanks to the bank for implementing such an initiative and I just hope that other institutions will come onboard to make things a bit easier not only for persons who are blind and visually impaired but by extension persons with disabilities not only in terms of currency but other initiatives that will minimize fraud and dishonesty where persons with disabilities are concerned.”

President of the St. Kitts Society for the Blind Rockliffe Bowen poses for a photo following the launch of the new polymer $EC notes (Spokesman Snap)

A member from the Resource Centre for the Blind Sherry Hamlet during her remarks said the move towards polymer notes is “a tangible commitment by my government [and] by my region that says that my rights to independence, to equality, to privacy are just as important as everyone else’s…”

Hamlet who talked about experiencing visual impairment all of her life talked about the “big difference” the use of such notes will have in the lives of people.

Bowen, in agreeing with such sentiments, told this reporter: “Of course, that’s right because in the past, we had this where we had to depend on people to separate the different notes for us  and because of that you know, you weren’t enjoying the independency that you would want to enjoy so [soon] when we go to the bank to draw our money or transact any other business elsewhere , we can now sit in a corner by ourselves and we don’t have to call anybody now to assist us in terms of  putting our monies together  so I think it make us more independent.”