The Central Bank of Armenia plans to introduce new, composite banknotes in 2018, gradually removing the current ones from circulation.
New 1,000-, 5,000-, 10,000-, 20,000- and 50,000-dram bills said to be more durable and protected are due to be put into circulation next autumn when the 25th anniversary of the introduction of the Armenian national currency will be marked.
A new 2,000-dram bill is expected to be introduced earlier as, according to a Central Bank official, there is a demand for the bill of this face value on the market. No new issue of the 100,000-dram bill (over $200) is planned.
Like the current banknotes, Armenia’s third-generation bills will also bear the images of noted Armenians: poet Paruyr Sevak, former world chess champion Tigran Petrosian, writer William Saroyan, composer Komitas, painter Hovhannes (Ivan) Aivazovsky and St. Gregory the Illuminator, the first official head of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Both the choice of the figures and the design of the new banknote presented by the Central Bank on Wednesday have sparked a debate in Armenian social media.
Secretary General of the Central Bank David Nahapetian dismissed criticism, saying that the design for the new banknotes was chosen after a contest to which as many as 17 applications had been submitted. He said he could not accept the criticism because “we are dealing with banknotes and not with pieces of art.” He added that the final design of the banknotes will be conditioned by the requirements of protective features such as watermarks, etc.
Economist Artak Manukian, meanwhile, claimed that with Armenia expected to have a tense economic year ahead, the issue of the new banknotes could be fraught with certain inflation risks. “It is clear that such emissions are usually accompanied with a certain devaluation of the currency. This’s what experience shows,” he said.
The Central Bank’s representative dismissed such concerns, saying that he did not see any inflation risks connected with the introduction of new banknotes. “We do not change the currency. We simply introduce a new series of banknotes. The nominal values do not change, and no changes occur in terms of money supply or money base. It cannot create any inflation pressure,” Nahapetian explained.