Saturday, January 22, 2011

Why Can't They Just Stop Minting Them?

Australia and New Zealand eliminated their 1-coins long ago. The Senate committee suggests that it's time for Canada to follow suit. More than half of Canadians agree - myself included. Except - I don't think we should start by demonetizing the penny.

That's unfortunately the common approach. Pat Martin's private member bill proposes that 1 cent coins cease to be legal tender at the end of the calendar year in which the bill passes. The Senate committee recommends a 12-month advance warning with a 12-month call-in period, after which the coins could still be redeemed in banks, but will no longer be legal tender. I believe that the best way to approach this is to just stop minting those coins.

That will save about $130M in production, storage and distribution costs. And at the same time, those who wish to keep using the penny, could be easily accommodated by the billions of pennies that are currently in circulation. Eventually, the coin will fall into disuse even if it remains officially a legal tender - without rush, without deadlines, without people lining up to cash in their penny jars... All it takes is just a brief note to the Royal Canadian Mint: "There's no need for 750 million pennies to be minted each year; we have more than enough of them in circulation already."

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