By Shakeh Avoyan
The Armenian Central Bank (HKB) will begin next year replacing all dram banknotes worth up to one U.S. dollar with coins which virtually disappeared from circulation more than ten years ago, a senior HKB official announced on Tuesday.
Gevorg Tumanian, who heads the bank’s department of monetary emission, said the coins will be minted in Poland. He said their production and circulation will be more cost-effective than the printing of small paper notes which wear out rapidly and need to be replaced once a year.
Tumanian argued that the metal coins, by contrast, can stay in circulation for up to 30 years. They will also allow for the spread of vending machines in Armenia, he added.
“We made sure that it doesn’t cost our state a lot, and we got a fairly good deal,” Tumanian told a news conference. But he refused to give any figures, saying that they are a “commercial secret.”
Poland’s State Mint will stamp Armenian coins with the face value of 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 drams. The latter are now worth about 90 U.S. cents. Only 10-dram coins are currently in circulation. They were worth 70 cents when the Armenian currency was launched in November 1993, at the height of post-Soviet hyperinflation and financial turmoil.