Dutch banks no longer accept Antillean guilder

THE HAGUE--The Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten is being blamed for the fact that Antillean guilders can no longer be exchanged in the Netherlands.

Commercial banks and the exchange offices in Netherlands are no longer accepting the Antillean guilder since October 10, the date when the Netherlands Antilles was dismantled as a country. The Antillean guilder is still the official currency in Curaçao and St. Maarten and will remain so until the countries introduce a new currency, the Caribbean guilder, which is probably in 2012.

According to the exchange office GWK Travelex, which was the last one to accept the Antillean guilder, the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten is to be blamed. A spokesperson of GWK Travelex, stated in Saturday's edition of the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that the Central Bank omitted to create a "buying situation."

That makes the commercial risks for the commercial banks and exchange offices too big, also because the Antillean guilder is not a current currency.

De Volkskrant cited Chairperson of the Caribbean Cultural Heritage Foundation and the Antillean youth organisation Yudansa Eardly van der Geld who harshly criticised the move by the commercial banks and exchange offices. Van der Geld called it a shame that no decent transitional period has been introduced as happened with the replacement of the Dutch guilder by the euro.

The Dutch Central Bank, however, doesn't consider it necessary to intervene other than to guide the introduction of the US dollar as official currency in the new Dutch public entities Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The US dollar will become official currency on these islands per January 1, 2011, with a transitional period for the fading out of the Antillean guilder.

This doesn't help Antilleans living in the Netherlands who want to exchange their Antillean guilders for euros, argued Van der Geld. A spokesperson of the Dutch Central Bank said that the bank was informed about the issue, but said it was a responsibility of the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten.

The spokesperson stated that the Antillean guilder will be accepted in Curaçao and St. Maarten until 2012 and that people could exchange their guilders via the islands. Van der Geld called it nonsense that people had to travel to the islands to exchange their money.

Asked for comment, the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten referred to a press release of October 12 this year. In that press release it was stated that the Caribbean guilder wasn't the official currency yet because the bank notes and coins still had to be designed and printed. "The process has already started, but will take about 1.5 years. We expect to introduce the new bank notes and coins at a still-to-be-determined date in 2012."

The Antillean guilder will be taken out of circulation within three months after the introduction of the Caribbean guilder. Until that time, the Antillean guilder will remain the official currency. In the period of maximum three months, both the Antillean and Caribbean guilder will be legal tender. After that period the Caribbean guilder will be the only legal tender in Curaçao and St. Maarten

After the official date of introduction of the Caribbean guilder, people can still exchange their Antillean guilders at the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten for a period of thirty years on a one-on-one basis.

Members of the Dutch Second Chamber Cynthia Ortega-Martijn and Arie Slob of the Christian Union (CU) earlier in November have posed written questions to Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Piet Hein Donner and Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager on the issue. The Members of Parliament have asked for a clarification. They suggested that the Dutch Central Bank get involved.

29 November 2010

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