BAGHDAD -- The Iraqi Central Bank is planning to redenominate the national currency in an effort to ease transactions and allow people to carry less paper money, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.
Mudhhir Muhammad Salih, a member of a Central Bank advisory panel, told RFI that a plan has been made to remove three zeros from the currency and phase out the current banknotes late this year.
Salih said by the end of 2010 the new banknotes will be fully introduced while the old banknotes will be gradually removed from circulation. He did not specify when the new notes would be issued.
Both will be legal tender in Iraq until the old notes are completely withdrawn.
Iraqi officials have had a long-running plan to redenominate the Iraqi dinar. In 2006, the Finance Ministry recommended to the Central Bank that it carry out such a plan.
Salih pointed out that banks are having a hard time accepting cash savings and deposits, but by dropping the zeros it will make it easier for both the banks to deal with their customers and for the general public to carry money. He said some 80 percent of Iraq's money supply is cash in circulation.
Salih added that in 1990 the value of banknotes in circulation was about 25 billion Iraqi dinars but is currently some 25 trillion dinars.
Economic analyst Hilal al-Tahhan told RFI that the bank's move is overdue. He said he expects the currency change to go smoothly because of the decision to allow both the old and new banknotes to coexist, leading to less turbulence in the economy.
The current exchange rate is 1,167 Iraqi dinars to the U.S. dollar.