Philippines suffering from shortage of coins

James Ryan Jonas

Coin shortage in the PhilippinesHow many times have you been irked by cashiers saying they don’t have barya and “Para masuklian kita nang buo, Sir, penge na lang ng singkwenta sentimos”?

That scene is almost always annoying but, apparently, this only confirms that the Philippines is currently suffering from a shortage of coins.

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Filipinos should start refraining from collecting and keeping coins because by doing so, the coins are taken out of public circulation and is not good for the financial system.

BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Gunigundo advised Filipinos to literally unload their alkansiya (piggybanks) and start spending coins to release them again to public circulation.

“Nananawagan tayo sa mga may alkansya dyan, sa mga may barya sa drawer, sa mga garapon. Ilabas na po natin. Ang problema kasi natin ay hindi yung dami ng barya, kundi yung sirkulasyon. Hindi napapaikot ang mga barya,” Gunigundo said.

One obvious effect of coin shortage in the country is the policy of some stores to shortchange customers (kulang ang sukli) due primarily to the fact that shops sometimes lack coins (barya) which they use as sukli.

More importantly, though, the suppressed circulation of coins forces the BSP to mint new coins — a move that entails additional cost to the government. According to the BSP, the cost to produce one new coin is Php 2.00 ($0.047). When taken in bulk, this amount may be worth billions of pesos that could have been spent in social services or jobs creation.

So next time you went shopping, bring and spend your coins. That can be your contribution to solving the problem of coin shortage in the Philippines.

James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.