A Slovakian mint has made samples of Belarusian coins, fuelling rumors that zeroes could be slashed from the Belarusian currency soon.
In an interview with BelaPAN, Vlastimil Kalinec, executive director of the Kremnica Mint, said that the company had not received an order from the National Bank of Belarus (NBB) but sent an offer to make millions of coins for Belarus.
The mint has not received a reply from the National Bank so far but there are unconfirmed reports that the company’s executives have met with NBB representatives to discuss the matter.
Belarus currently has only paper money and the rumors mean that it may reintroduce kopecks as low-value units of currency.
A picture of the samples have been posted at http://worldcoinnews.blogspot.com by Petr Barta, who said that he had taken them at a coin museum in Kremnica.
A report on the website says that six million five-kopeck, 34 million 10-kopeck, 15 million 20-kopeck, 36 million 50-kopeck and 24 million one-rubel coins are to be minted for Belarus. Mr. Barta said that three zeroes would be removed from the Belarusian currency at the end of this year.
When reached by BelaPAN, NBB spokesman Anatol Drazdow said that the National Bank had asked a number of mints, including the one in Slovakia, to make samples of Belarusian coins but described the requests as a "common practice."
"However, the very fact of the publication of pictures of these coins does not mean that coins will be introduced in Belarus soon or that they will be minted by the Slovakian mint," he said. "The National Bank should be ready for any opportunity, including for the possible introduction of coins. This may happen in five, ten years, but we should have everything ready for this, with both samples developed and mints’ opportunities determined. In general, it takes a year or two to make new money," he said.
Mr. Drazdow stressed that "we don’t need it [the coin] so far, that’s why no one is going to introduce it." Speaking this past January, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that the Belarusian government did not plan to change the denominations of the rubel soon.
"If we decide to carry out a redenomination, we will announce this in advance, three or four months before," he said. The most recent redenomination was carried out in Belarus on January 1, 2000.