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People are still hoarding hundreds of millions in Irish punts

Irish pounds valued at €1.4 million were exchanged during 2015.

IF YOU ARE a bit short of cash come the bank holiday weekend, it may be worth having a look down the back of the sofa for some old Irish pounds.

Despite the fact that it has not been legal tender for almost 15 years, there is still almost a quarter of a billion euro worth of punts lying about in drawers and jars across Ireland.

Irish pound (IR£) banknotes are still accepted by the Central Bank and, once verified, are exchanged for their euro equivalent.

According to the Central Bank’s annual report for 2015 that was released this week, IR£1.1 million worth of banknotes was exchanged for €1.4 million by the public during the year.

There is still plenty more waiting to be traded in. The Central Bank said that as of the end of 2015, there were still €228 million worth of Irish pound banknotes outstanding.

Punts to euros

The Central Bank has provided an exchange facility for those who wish to change Irish banknotes and coins into euro since the introduction of the new currency in January 2002. The organisation said at the time that the service would continue “indefinitely”.

The Central Bank also accepts Irish punts for exchange by registered post and will exchange up to IR£3,000 per transaction.

The re-introduction of the punt was briefly considered during the height of the eurozone crisis in 2012. Former Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore told RTÉ last year:  ”I remember one particular crisis meeting that we had … where the Governor of the Central Bank was present. We talked about what would we need to do to re-launch the punt. How quickly could it be printed?”

The Central Bank’s annual report also shows:

  • The organisation’s staff costs rose from just over €124 million in 2014 to almost €149 million. The amount spent on salaries and allowances increased from €91.2 million to €96.1 million while pension costs went from €25.2 million to €44.2 million.
  • It made a profit of €2.24 billion, up from €2.14 billion in 2014. From this, €1.79 billion has been transferred to the exchequer.
  • Some €632 million was transferred to the Central Bank’s general reserve, which now stands at just under €3 billion.

Written by Paul O’Donoghue and originally published on Fora, a new business publication for Irish startups and SMEs.

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