KARACHI - One and two-rupee red coins are regularly being traded across the country, at a price as high as Rs 600 from their denominational face value, on the basis of rumours that the currency units contain precious gold. The central bank can do nothing except observing the situation with a sheer helplessness and indeed surprise.
According to SBP Chief Spokesman Syed Wasimuddin, an organised racket of cheats is fleecing the illiterate masses on the basis of “misleading” media reports. The rumours seem to have done damage that is far deeper than what the State Bank perceives it to be, as the profit-conscious general public, specially those living in the rural areas, seems to have fallen prey to, what the central bank described as “highly mischievous” reports.
“Friends special request: If anyone has the 1 Re, coins (red one not the silver one) please save it and contact me I will have it exchanged as some one has requested me. Thanks,” reads an SMS this reporter received from a contact based in Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In a telephonic conversation from Kunda village of District Sawabi, Usman Ali, a customer service manager at a private telecommunication firm, told Profit that the one-rupee coins were being traded in his village at a rate ranging from Rs 150 to Rs 600.
Further, Hayat Khan, a tobacco trader in Nawagai village of Buner District, KPK, is quoted to have so far sold out the coins worth Rs 6000.
No different is the situation in this relatively well-educated metropolis where certain shopkeepers are purchasing the gold-mixed coins, as they perceive, at a price up to Rs 150.
“Some shopkeepers in Jackson are purchasing the red coins. The rates range from Rs 100 to Rs 150,” Zarwali Khan informed Profit from Keamari neighborhood.
“They say there is gold mixed in it,” said the illiterate laborer who this reporter found hard to be alerted to the rumors.
The central bank points finger at a section of regional press that, the regulator claims, had spread rumors about the mixture of gold in the currency coins.
“The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) categorically denies the reports/rumors appearing in a section of the regional press/media regarding the mixing of gold in aluminum/copper coins of Rs. 1/- and Rs.2/-,“ said SBP Chief Spokesman Syed Wasimuddin in a clarification issued last Wednesday, June 6.
The chief spokesman described the reports as “baseless rumors, highly misleading and mischievous”.
The exchange value of one and two-rupee coins would remain the same as per their face value, said the spokesman.
“An organized racket is behind all these rumors to befool the illiterate masses,” Wasimuddin told Profit.
Lamenting that some leading newspapers had not published the central bank’s clarification on the public interest matter, the SBP spokesman called upon the masses not to buy or sell their coins on any price which is above their face value.
Laughing out the impression that there was some gold mixed in the coins, Wasimuddin categorically clarified the rumors that the cenetral bank was about to stop issuing the coins and would retain the ones in circulation at Rs 1000.
“The State Bank would not pay any amount that is more than the face value of a coin or unit of currency,” he said.
However, the central bank’s statements so far have fallen on the deaf ears in the largely illiterate country where some, self-assumingly, smart people are always there to be exploited at the hands of cheats.