BSP to print all banknotes

Published August 2, 2020, 10:00 PM

by Lee C. Chipongian

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) may soon print all of the country’s banknotes requirements locally and not outsource to foreign printers, according to its highest-ranking official.

“I’ve recently instructed our people to come up with a roadmap so that we will produce all our banknote requirements in the country,” said BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno.

 In 2019, the BSP produced 65.7 percent of domestic banknotes requirements while 34.3 percent were outsourced finished banknotes. The BSP outsource currency printing is a “temporary stop-gap measure” to “meet surges in currency demand.”

“BSP outsources only the quantity of banknotes that need to produce beyond what our facilities can internally print,” said Diokno.

 “The maximum production capacity includes the output of the newer production lines,” he added. With the completed installation of two banknotes printers in 2017 – and these are the P2.8-billion superlines purchased in 2011 and 2012 — the BSP raised its currency production capacity to as much as 3.6 billion pieces from 1.8 billion.

 Last year, the BSP’s Security Plant Complex (SPC) in Quezon City printed 3.098 billion banknotes. The currency requirements in 2019 reached 3.247 billion pieces of banknotes amounting to P1.161 trillion. The year before, the in-house produced banknotes totaled 2.035 billion pieces while it outsourced 888.75 million of finished bills.

There are only a select number of nations that can print its entire currency requirement and the BSP has been planning for that distinction for more than a decade. At least 80 countries do not have bills printing capabilities while many outsource its entire currency requirements.

 The central bank has modernized and expanded SPC from 2014 when the Monetary Board approved a 10-year plan but it was in 2018 when the need for a bigger facility to handle the currency requirements of a growing economy became more apparent.

 To address the higher requirement for currency, the BSP will relocate in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, to build a new 29-hectare Currency Production Facility (CPF) and complete its construction within Diokno’s term or until 2023. However the COVID-19 pandemic delayed this plan. At the moment, the BSP is still completing negotiations with New Clark City after signing a memorandum of agreement in September last year. The six-hectare SPC is expected to be sold for P8 billion.

 The BSP last week launched enhanced banknotes in the denominations of 1000-piso, 500-piso, 200-piso, 100-piso and 50-piso. These have improved security/anti-counterfeiting and tactile features. In particular, to make the 1000-piso and 500-piso more difficult to counterfeit, the BSP added roller bar effect on the value panels and color-shifting.

 Printing of the 20-piso bills, in the meantime, was not included as the BSP is in the process of phasing out this note after producing its coin version earlier this year. “We are still producing the 20-piso banknote until the inventory of raw materials for this denomination is totally used up,” said Diokno.