THE health of a country's currency or its financial well-being rests on the genuineness of its money in circulation. Fake currency notes or the capacity of clandestine currency copiers and their ability to circulate the same successfully among unsuspecting people can throw a very serious challenge to the normal functioning of a country's economy. Such activities on a large scale can undermine faith on the national currency leading to even spectacular erosion in its value in a short period of time. Bangladesh had to face such a situation once in the seventies following its independence when its high value 500 taka notes had to be demonetised in a bid to take the wind out of the sails of its fake producers and circulators. Recently, frequent newspaper reports have been noted about counterfeit Bangladeshi currency. The notes are of taka 500 and 100 denominations mainly.
The reason for real concern is that the fake notes seem to be so well made that these are hard to distinguish from the authentic ones. This has been causing problems in two areas : the difficulty of common people in realising that they are dealing in bogus currency and application of the laws in relation to such counterfeit currency. The law presently is severe about possessing or attempting to distribute such notes. But how will inexperienced people know that they have accepted fake notes thinking of them as genuine ones and attempting to pass them on to others? Can they be charged, in all fairness, for possession and circulation of such currency notes? The other obvious problem is the one faced by handlers of currency notes -- in all kinds of institutions -- to determine their true nature. Thus, the government is faced with, no doubt, a rather precarious position in relation to mounting activities of fake currency production and their circulation. It needs to act with a clear view and policies to root out this crime for good in the economy's highest interest and for achieving normalcy in the indispensable monetary transactions of people and organizations.
The present problem of fake money is not so extensive like that of 1974 when demonetisation had to be carried out. The problem is still limited and can be brought under control with truly devoted activities and swift and tough actions. It has earlier been reported that the fake currency makers are located mainly in Indian territories and they push such forged currencies into Bangladesh. Regular detection and seizure of such notes in large quantities in the bordering districts do otherwise lend credibility to this view. Therefore, the first step in order would be THE taking up of the matter with the relevant Indian authorities so that everything necessary can be done to find out and deal with such gangs within their jurisdiction. But there are reasons to believe that fake currency notes are also being made and distributed locally. Thus, the law enforcement bodies in Bangladesh need to be alerted to give the highest priority to learn about such rackets and take care of them for good.
Furthermore, the awareness level of all sections of people about fake currency should be raised with regular publicities in the mass media. The publicities need to aim to educate people on the ways and means of detecting false notes such as through identification of security threads in them and the luminous parts. Banks and other financial institutions are using machines on a limited scale to detect fake currency notes. The use of such machines needs to be much more extensive. Polymer notes are in circulation which are probably difficult to forge. But these special notes are restricted to small values. Thus, the polymer versions of 500 and 100 taka notes may prove to be effective against forgery.