Ireland is running short of one-cent coins
Noonan considering dropping one and two cent coins following trial where everything was rounded to nearest five
The Central Bank has no cents. Or at least its supply of the irritating pieces of shrapnel that nobody wants is running low, prompting it to repeat calls for consumers to re-circulate coins they have behind sofa cushions or piling up in change jars.
Late last year the Central Bank issued a plea for the safe return of hundreds of millions of coppers worth tens of millions of euro which had simply disappeared into Irish homes.
It was forced to act because it was struggling to get the raw material needed to mint more low value coins despite issuing almost 2.5 billion 1 cent and 2 cent pieces since the euro came into being in 2003.
The rate at which Ireland has been minting coppers is three times more than the EU average but the requirement for more – if not the demand - has been insatiable.
Its calls appear to have gone unheeded and the Central Bank recently tendered for a new supplier to provide raw material for coin production as the previous supplier was unable to meet demand.
This has led to “a reduced supply in recent weeks and months,” a Central Bank spokeswoman said. The tender closed in January and the Central Bank “is now considering the responses to the Tender to determine the best way forward”.
A spokeswoman told The Irish times there was plenty of coins lying about in Irish homes and it is now “engaging with relevant stakeholders to promote re-circulation of coin and would again urge the public to use small denomination coins, or donate them to charities, rather than retain them”.
Coppers, which are actually made with 94.5 per cent steel and plated with 5.5 per cent copper, cost more to make and transport than they will ever be worth.
A one cent coin costs 1.7 cent to produce, while a two cent coin costs almost exactly two cent. With about 25 billion of them in circulation across the EU, the total cost of production stands at close to €400 million
Lower denomination coins can’t be used in vending machines, at toll booths or to pay for car parking and there can’t be a shop in the country that likes to get them in any significant numbers or a shopper who likes giving them.
The Minister for Finance Michael Noonan is still considering proposals to drop one and two cent coins from following a trial across Co Wexford last year which saw prices for cash transactions rounded to the nearest five cent.
The trial carried out by the National Payments Plan, a branch of the Central Bank, went well with 85 per cent consumers and 100 per cent of retailers who took part saying that rounding up was the way to go.