Incarcerate coin hoarders? How about ceasing the circulation of centavos?


FOR THOSE WHO watched GMA News TV’s news-magazine program Brigada last Tuesday, June 24, 2014, you have heard about the item of coin hoarding and the costs of minting new baryas (change).

On the said program, there was a proposed law that penalizes coin hoarding. House Bill 4411, authored by Batangas Rep. Sonny Collantes, is now in passed over the hurdles of Batasang Pambansa and now in the hands of the Senate in Pasay. Yet, the problem of this bill would not just affect the guilty goldsmiths and silversmiths (and bronze-smiths?) who use hoarded coins for jewelry but also of the society of numismatists whose hobbies and interests speaks for itself and of course, our children who wanted to start saving at a young age. Would you like to jail them for hoarding over the limit worth of change, though with different intentions?

For a skeptic and “enlightened” Juans, like most criminal laws in the land, the said Anti-Coin Hoarding Bill will not be implemented easily due to legal loopholes and futile prevention.

There is only one solution to enable an aid to inclusive economy and to cut government expenditures: Stop producing the sentimos outright!

You’ve heard it right.

Sentimos are coins, which are supposed to be our medium of exchange in everyday transactions. Back then, we used to buy high-quality stuff but no more. In a current macroeconomic status of the Philippines where inflation is in the medium range (about 5% per year), the buying power of our sentimos are no longer worthy, not even our microeconomic sari-sari stores where their goods do not set a price less than a peso.

If you are a 2000s kid, you probably use a bala of a novelty “magic” pencil and insert it into a 5-centavo hole and spin around like a top or more popularly back then, Beyblades. Now, let’s go back to the topic.

Well, for some of the Internet nerds out there, the Brigada segment reminded about C.G.P. Grey. His YouTube video, Death to Pennies, uploaded November 30, 2011, explained why the U.S. government should ditch the penny for good. In his video, justifiable reasons of ditching the penny include the high cost of minting, the national inflation and loss of buying power, the act of being deadweight in jars or coin banks and the meaningless definition as “money” as a medium of exchange.

After the video was uploaded, the sister from the north, the Canadian federal government, finally decided to ditch the penny for good due to the costs above their representative value.

According to the item of the news-magazine program moderated by Jessica Soho, the cost of minting 25 centavos coin (bentsingkos) is 76 centavos (about thrice more than face value) wasting funds, though in small percentage, for other social services.

And with coins worth less than a peso means nothing to common Juan de la Cruz, they would end up accumulated into our coin banks for charity and for our homes and act as a deadweight loss of every transaction. We wish we had a vending machine that converts our hard-earned baryas into Rizal, Aguinaldo and Bonifacio and Mabini coins (1-peso, 5-peso and 10-peso coins respectively) like the U.S. Coinstar as mentioned in the YouTube video because rented videoke machines and vending machines in a restroom in SM do not accept sentimos.

Even if you say that, “you can’t make a peso without sentimos,” well, sorry to say, folks. In this trending and quick age of impatience, centavo counting is no longer a value-added activity time for all Filipinos engaging in our daily business. Even if it is hard for some sectors to see the small change to let it go, but there will be a certain gain for the common good if we have a rational monetary policy making from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and a rational mind of the one who currently sits in the National Government.

Sorry, it’s time to kill the sentimos.


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[Photo courtesy of Alvin Chua of Flickr. YouTube video, courtesy of C.G.P. Grey]


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