PNG Currency Turns 45 Years Old
Forty-five years ago, today, a just-about-to-be-born Papua New Guinea marked its official economic entry into the World when it officially launched its own currency, the Kina and Toea.
Founding Finance Minister and now New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan reflecting on it says amidst skepticism from foreigners and Papua New Guineans alike, a young man he was appointed as the Minister for Internal Finance, working with an expert team to prepare the National Currency Ship for a successful launch, which occurred on schedule on the 19th of April 1975 in Port Moresby.
Sir Julius said the launching of the currency was a team effort, and that he had the best team he could ever hope for.
He established a Currency Committee which included the founding Governor of the Bank of Papua New Guinea, the late Sir Henry ToRobert, as chairman, PNG’s first Secretary for Finance Sir Mekere Morauta, Professor Ross Garnaut and other public and private sector officials who worked tirelessly in organizing the currency change-over from the Australian dollar.
“When the kina was first issued, PNG had not reached full political Independence as yet.
However, the existence of the nation’s own money, together with the other measures the self-governing administration took to establish control of the economic life, gave the country-to-be a real measure of practical independence,” he said in a statement.
“Even after Independence, though, many still did not seem to accept the kina as real money.”
Sir Julius said he recognized that, and shortly after Independence he took another bold step by raising the value of the kina by five percent against the Australian Dollar.”
When people saw that they could buy more goods with the Kina than with the Dollar, all the dollars they had been hoarding came out of hiding and were changed into kina,” he said. “The Kina had arrived.”
He said today, as current Governor of New Ireland and the last founding father standing on the floor of Parliament: “We have come a long way, we have overcome many challenges. Never lose hope, Papua New Guinea will make it through whatever challenge is thrown at us.
For Sir Julius the launch of the Kina on 19th April 1975 was linked with a deeply personal moment for him and his family, as his fourth and youngest child was born that very day. And Sir Julius, sensing the history of the moment, named his son Toea to bless the occasion.
“As we reflect back on the birth of our beloved Kina and Toea, perhaps it is time for the architects of PNG’s financial and other institutions to re-group and work on new strategies to deal with today’s economic problems,” he said.
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