The Senate is seeking to approve a bill that would impose stiff penalties on coin hoarders in the country.
Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, chairman of the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies, pointed out that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has uncovered the presence of syndicates that hoard coins for use as raw materials for various products that are in demand in several industries.
All Philippine coins are made of various alloys of copper, brass, nickel, aluminum or steel and with the rising values of these metals, Osmeña noted that this has encouraged syndicates to hoard and export coins.
The BSP has reported a shortage in coins since 2004 and replacing these for local circulation would entail a significant cost on the economy.
Osmeña clarified though that the proposed measure would cover only individuals or groups engaged in the large-scale hoarding and exportation of coins, which syndicates smelt and convert for use as raw materials for mobile phones, computers or other industrial applications.
It would not cover “piggy bank” savings and businesses using coins to operate, like vending machines and “piso” nets.
Osmeña, who is also the author of Senate Bill No. 2452, or the proposed Anti-Hoarding of Philippine Legal Tender Coins Act, said “people who save their coins and place them in piggy banks will not be jailed because the volume is so small.”
“The measure targets large-scale hoarders who sell the coins abroad to be melted down because the intrinsic value of the metal is more than the face value of the coin,” Osmeña said.
He also allayed the concerns raised by small and medium entrepreneurs about the bill, saying that retail businesses that use coins to operate, like Automatic Tubig Machines, Piso Nets, vending machines, video karera machines and other kinds of amusement machines would also be exempted from its coverage.
Also exempted are charitable institutions, private banks, banking and financial institutions of the government, and government agencies and instrumentalities which keep coins in connection with their business functions or official duties.
Osmeña lamented that despite efforts by the BSP to stop the illegal activity and to promote public awareness to stress the importance of coins and to encourage their use as a medium of exchange, the coin shortage continues.
“We have to stop illegal coin hoarding so we can promote and maintain price stability of our coins. We have been experiencing coin shortage for years now and if this continues, it would result in a wider-reaching negative impact on the economy,” Osmeña said.