As the Commonwealth, including Belize, collectively mark the death of Queen Elizabeth The Second of England, there are questions over the state of the Belizean currency. Specifically, since she’s now passed, many have suggested the viability and the value of the Belize dollar will diminish without her face on it. Indeed, it’s the first time in a generation that Belize dollars with her face will be phased out but the value of the dollar does not change. It will still be pegged at a Belize dollar being equivalent to fifty U.S. cents. Central Bank Governor, Kareem Michael explained.
Kareem Michael, Governor of Central Bank of Belize: “The primary reason of what makes money – money- is that it’s a medium of exchange and within that it has to be a unit of account and have some store of value. So, right off the bat, there’s nothing in there that says a picture, whether human or of an animal, we have tapir, we have jaguar, gives it value. So the concern by the public, right off the bat, should be dismissed, right off the bat. When we look at a medium of exchange, what we’re establishing here is a replacement in that barter system. So I’m telling you that within this paper system I am giving you something in exchange for something else and that can be measured and that has some sort of value. The Central Bank of Belize ACT establishes in law that our currency is valued at a 2:1 exchange rate, specifically that $1 for our currency is .50c American. So it is anchored within that that I am able to say we use this paper dollar to go to the store and exchange it for something else of that value and that is simply it.”
So, whose face goes on the money? As Governor Michael pointed out, while it has always been a person, it could be an animal too. But the person who ultimately decides is the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance. Who or what should be on it? When asked, Michael discussed what the makers of Belize’s money have advised.
Kareem Michael, Governor of Central Bank of Belize: “We have discussions with our mentors on this and they have advised always that you would want to at least have that person be honourable with a certain level of, a National Hero for example, of dignity, a man of the highest level of integrity, a person of the hughes level of integrity and then we go a little bit further by saying if you put somebody on a an early stage, realise that things may happen later on, a scandal of some sort, which you might be faced then with that embarrassment so to speak and even better then if you had a hero who is up there in age and passes without a scratch or a blemish on his or her record then fine and there are numerous examples of this across the globe where there are dead presidents, if you will, or past heroes, National Heroes, who are on the notes of currency.”
Thus far, there has not yet been a formal announcement on when Belize paper and coin currency with Queen Elizabeth will be phased out. For now, all the currency in circulation is still legal tender.