Банкеръ Weekly




On January 1, 2001, the national currencies of all countries within the euro-zone will be exchanged against euro-banknotes and euro-coins. Therefore the preparation for the new currency introduction is growing more and more frantic. Although Bulgaria is still far from being officially accepted in EU, our country is related with the new currency for at least two reasons. The first one - with the introduction of the currency board the Bulgarian Lev was pegged to Deutsche Mark. The second reason has much to do with the development of the Bulgarian economy in the last ten years.
Next month BNB should present its approach to introducing the new currency in the most painless way. The plan consists of several stages, with the preparation one to be undoubtedly the most important. It is to be completed on December 31.
While the preparation stage is running, BNB is supposed to form its official evaluation of the Deutsche Marks amounts, held by the Bulgarian population, to work out an information campaign concerning the new currency and to set contacts with the central banks of the eurozone-countries. BNB's workteam has already carried out a meeting with representatives of commercial banks in Bulgaria which are interested in having large amounts of the new banknotes available. BNB is to sign a partnership agreement with a number of commercial banks, aiming at a smoother transition to euro-banknotes.
Sources of the bank reveal that preparations for EURO actually started two years ago. At first researches have been made to be settled the exact amount of euro-currencies and specially Deutsche Marks, hold by Bulgarians in form of personal savings. The subject has been tackled mainly by servants of the BNB Economic Analyses and Forecasts Directorate.
But the real work on meeting the EURO was initiated last autumn when it was revealed that the process of the new currency introduction is treated as a rather complicated one even by the countries from Euroland.
In the last months continuous consultations with the Bundesbank have been carried out, yet there are still problems to be solved: has Bulgaria prepared preliminary accounts for the sum in EURO it will need; how does BNB intend to transport the money; what precautionary measures will be taken.
The BNB is to make contacts with the National Bank of Greece for two reasons: Greece is a member of the euro-zone and being Bulgarian neighbour has flooded our country with plenty of GRDs. So within the frame of the Bulgarian relationships with Greece an agreement should be signed which to specify the exact conditions under which GRDs will be withdrawn and the new currency will be supplied, the exact period of the changeover, etc.
Experts of BNB evaluate that about EUR400MN should enter the country so as a normal exchange of old currencies for new one to take place.
The exchange may be carried out in several ways. Individuals may open deposits with the banks before the year-end and place there the currency they are keeing at home or somewhere else, but not at the banks. The amounts of these deposits will be calculated into EURs. Thus all Bulgarians who possess European currencies will meet the New Year with an account in EUR as well.
In fact some banks, especially the bigger ones, have already started calculating the deposits in EUR. Later all the banks will accept without any problem deposits amounting to EUR50,000. But when the sum exceeds the above limit, additional proofs for the money's origin will be exacted. Naturally, the exchange bureaus will also receive euro-banknotes.
At present an information campaign on the new currency is due to be launched in the country. The new banknotes will be shown on special billboards. The old money's exchange terms will also be pointed out, etc. BNB adds that it will follow the scheme already implemented when BGL was denominated.
As far as the preparation of Bulgarian firms to meet the new currency is concerned, BNB is expecting commercial banks to deal with the subject. Many of these banks have foreign partners or owners from countries-members of the euro-zone which are closely related to the problem.
BNB promises to pay serious attention to the protection against forgeries. Whatever the range of the information campaign, people will not be well-acquainted with the new banknotes for a certain period of time and swindlers may appear. It has already been planned that experts from countries outside the euro-zone would attend special training seminars in countries from Euroland for protection of the new banknotes. Afterwards it will be BNB's turn to organize similar seminars for representatives of the commercial banks in Bulgaria.

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