Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority to quarantine banknotes for up to 20 days

Banknotes and coins will undergo a special treatment mechanism to ensure they are safe to use. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 22 May 2020

Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority to quarantine banknotes for up to 20 days

  • Additional steps will also be taken to further reduce health risks from the virus

JEDDAH: The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) will quarantine the banknotes and coins it receives from local and international sources as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The authority said currency, along with electronic payment tools, are considered possible ways in which the virus can be passed on. It will therefore isolate notes and coins in sealed units for between 14 and 20 days, with the duration depending on where the cash came from. Additional steps will also be taken to further reduce health risks.

“Banknotes and coins will undergo a special treatment mechanism to ensure they are safe to use,” according to SAMA. “Then they will be sorted by machines automatically in accordance with the authority’s stringent quality standards, with dirty or unfit notes destroyed immediately.”

The treated notes and coins will be stored in the authority’s treasury and delivered to banks upon request, allowing them to be held in isolation for a longer period.

Economist and financial analyst Talat Zaki Hafiz said that these precautionary measures will not affect cash flow in local money markets. “The monetary authority, with its decades of experience, acts in accordance with its very precise calculations,” he said. “There is a careful balance between the isolation period for the banknotes, the amount of isolated cash and the amount the local monetary system and markets need, also taking into consideration the cash availability in its treasury.”

Hafiz added that the decision to quarantine currency is not unusual.

“Isolation procedures frequently take place during similar health crises,” he said. “Ensuring the safety of banknotes and following a treatment mechanism is a norm at the monetary authority and various banks.”

SAMA said it will continue to track the effects of the pandemic on all economic sectors, including banking and finance. It also offered an assurance that it will continue to provide all necessary support to help maintain the integrity and stability of the financial sector.

The authority has implemented a range of precautionary measures to counter the effects of the coronavirus crisis on the economy, including new policies and an expansion of its supervisory role.

It has called on banks to help individual and business clients cope with the effects of the pandemic through the provision of financing opportunities, reduced service costs and exemption from certain fees, among other measures. The authority also highlighted the need for support from financial institutions to help the private sector mitigate the effects of reduced cash flows during the outbreak.


G20 trade and investment ministers discuss COVID-19 response under Saudi Arabia's presidency

Updated 22 September 2020

G20 trade and investment ministers discuss COVID-19 response under Saudi Arabia's presidency

RIYADH: The trade and investment ministers of the G20 nations met virtually on Tuesday under the presidency of Saudi Arabia to strengthen trade and investment cooperation.
The ministers agreed to continue cooperation to support the recovery of international trade and investment amid the coronavirus pandemic.
They also agreed to support the necessary reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to which the Riyadh Initiative on the Future of the WTO provides political support.
Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi Arabia's minister of investment, said the collective G20 response to COVID-19 had started to deliver early signs of a “resilient, and stable economic recovery.”
“As policymakers, it is our duty to prioritize the most vulnerable in our societies, including micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and Saudi Arabia stands ready to endorse the G20 policy guidelines for MSMEs,” Falih said.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Commerce Majid Al-Qasabi told the meeting that measures adopted by the G20 in May were “critical for sustaining the flow of essential goods and services across borders and limiting the human toll of the pandemic.”