By Amina al-Dahabi for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
The Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) has been attempting to delete three zeros from the Iraqi currency since 2003. This project has raised many concerns among the Iraqi public and within the business community, and Iraqi economists are divided. While some support the project and consider it a chance to decrease inflation and unemployment, others warn of economic shocks that may prevail over the Iraqi market as a result of the project’s implementation.
Following amendments made by the CBI, implementation of the project has been postponed several times. This is because of fears that are mostly related to the lack of security, the presence of a market open to foreign commodities without any restrictions, the prevalence of counterfeit money in the market and rampant corruption in the country.
The independent Iraqi News Agency (INA) quoted Abdul Hussein al-Yasiri, a member of the Iraqi parliamentary Finance Committee, as saying that 2014 will witness the deletion of zeros from the Iraqi currency. He noted that the deletion will occur in coordination with the CBI, and that as a result of the project, the number of banknotes in circulation will be reduced from 4 billion to 1 billion.
Haider al-Abadi, the head of the Iraqi parliamentary Finance Committee, told Al-Monitor that while deleting zeros from the current currency is possible, this has been postponed until after parliamentary elections. He noted that studies are being carried out to ensure that, following the currency change, counterfeiting is limited and that Iraqis don’t go back to trading in the old currency.
The step to delete zeros from the currency has been postponed several times, leading the parliamentary Economic Committee to demand that the CBI accelerate this project, as Al-Sharqiya reported. In a news conference held July 6, the Economic Committee confirmed that the deletion of zeros will lead to an increase in the value of the Iraqi dinar and will have positive repercussions, including a reduction in unemployment and poverty rates in the country.