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Daily Archives: February 6, 2008

Monetary Authority short changed


by Nigel Huxtable

The Monetary Authority of Macao (AMCM) is working to fast track a new shipment of coins from England as it struggles to meet a growing demand for change.

The authority is currently unable to fully meet demand for coins from local banks , a source from the Monetary Authority of Macao confirmed yesterday.
The source, who did not want to be named due to company policy, said in the last couple of months the amount of coins requested from financial institutions had risen rapidly.
The authority, which keeps the SAR's stock of coins, has only been able to partially meet the fortnightly requests of local banks which have risen to amounts of up to 4 million patacas.
“We can not satisfy 100 percent (the requests) we can only satisfy part of them,” the source said.
The authority is uncertain about the cause of the shortage.
In total coins amounting to 348 million patacas have been manufactured by England's Royal Mint. The authority has released 290 million patacas' worth, however it does not have a mechanism to track the amount that has remained in circulation.
Last year, based on demand it was seeing at the time and during 2006. It placed an order for an additional batch of coins worth 119 million patacas. However it appears the AMCM underestimated the pace of the growing demand and is now having to fill orders by digging into its stockpile of 58 million patacas of coinage.
The is due either to the surging economy and inflation combining to increase the demand for money or coins disappearing out of the system, perhaps as souvenirs of the growing number of visitors.
However the authority is confident it will not totally run out of coins before the next shipment arrives and will be able to meet demand during the Lunar New Year holidays. The order was scheduled for delivery in April, however the AMCM is working to have it arrive as soon as possible.
In the meantime retailers are being affected by the coin squeeze. Circle K stores have notices posted asking customers to pay with change “due to the coin shortage”.
Previously the banks have often deposited excess coins with the authority, however such an action hasn't been seen for months, the source said.
A similar situation is not being seen with notes, assured the source. While the AMCM is the issuing authority for coins, the Bank of China and the Banco Nacional Ultramarino (BNU) issue notes in Macau. The two banks have an adequate stock of cash, the source said.

Two million protest against Colombian rebels: officials

Sample Imageby Jean-Luc Porte*

More than two million Colombians demonstrated worldwide Monday against the FARC Marxist rebels, according to official figures, demanding the freeing of hostages and an end to decades of violence.
Wearing white shirts saying "No more FARC" and "No more kidnapping," demonstrators brought normal business in Colombia to a virtual standstill as they flooded the streets of its main cities and 125 capitals around the world.
"I feel the pain of the families of the hostages rotting in the jungle … and I want all the nations of the world to realize that the FARC is not Colombia," one demonstrator, Myriam Forero, told AFP in Bogota.
They were the largest rallies ever organized against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), coming a day after the armed group pledged to release three former lawmakers held hostage for seven years in the jungle.
The Colombian government has sought to link the demonstrations to its own tough policies on the FARC and in recent days made repeated appeals for a massive public turnout.
"Today the citizens have more faith in the state, they have more faith in the army," conservative President Alvaro Uribe declared on private television station Caracol.
His government has used television coverage over the past week to try and mobilize the crowds with images of hostages behind barbed wire in FARC camps.
Bogota's Mayor Samuel Rojas said that more than 1.2 million people converged on Bolivar square in the heart of the city and hundreds in other parts, citing police figures.
Half a million marched in each of two other major cities, Medellin and Cali, according to local authorities.
Students and civil servants were allowed to skip classes and work to join the demonstrations.
Similar protests were also held in the United States, Canada and Japan, with actions largely organized by Colombian embassies. Demonstrations in Latin America included Peru, Brazil and Venezuela.
More than 3,000 people gathered in London's Trafalgar Square, with hundreds turning out in Rome and Madrid.
"I condemn violence as a way of doing politics, and narco-terrorism," Colombia's ambassador in Madrid, Noemi Sanin, told AFP.
Some 200 people turned out in Paris, but the rally was condemned by the family of high-profile French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt.
"We condemn this manipulation. It's propaganda, which while pretending to be against the FARC is completely organized by the government," said the captive's sister Astrid Betancourt.
In Colombia, families of the hostages and left-wing groups also refused to back the demonstrations.
Two hostages released last month, former lawmaker Consuelo Gonzalez and Betancourt's former aide Clara Rojas, did take part, however. Rojas called on the FARC to "hear this message that Colombia is sending you."
The FARC, accused of drug trafficking and of holding some 750 people hostage, is classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and the Colombian government.
The 17,000-strong rebel force has been battling the Bogota government since the 1960s.
Betancourt is among 43 high-profile hostages, including three Americans, whom the FARC wants to exchange for 500 rebels held in Colombian prisons. It also demands the government create a demilitarized zone in the southwest, which Uribe has refused.
The guerrillas said they would free three lawmakers — Gloria Polanco, Luis Eladio Perez and Orlando Beltran, all captured in 2001 — "unilaterally, because of the state of their health," in a statement published Sunday.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said he was ready to receive the hostages.