National Bank Exchanging Dingy Old Riel

The National Bank of Cam­bodia has exchanged several million riel worth of old notes for new ones at their branch offices at main markets throughout Cambodia, bank officers said Thursday.

The turned-in notes have been burned, they said.

The offices—which opened at the beginning of the year to allow people to exchange their tattered old riel for crisp new riel—are part of a project to get old money out of circulation. The stands will accept any bill—including those that are ripped—as long as at least two-thirds remains, Sum Sannisith, secretary general of the bank, said.

“If they have an old 500 riel note, they can change it for a new one from the bank,” Sum San­nisith said. He added that most of the notes turned in have been 100, 200 and 500 riel notes and have been turned in by market vendors rather than shoppers.

“We do not want people to use the old money because they are dirty and full of disease because they have been past from hand to hand for many years….I don’t think people’s hands are clean,” he said.

Sum Sannisith said bank officials who work in the counting department always wear masks to prevent infection from viruses and bacteria on old money. “When a machine counts money, you can see the dirt appear,” he added.

Old money remained in circulation for too long because the government has not frequently printed new notes, he said. He added that old money had frequently been used to pay government staff and teachers.

He added that some counterfeit notes had also been turned in, and that National Bank is cooperating with the Ministry of the Interior in order to investigate.



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