Belgium is short of small change

There is currently a shortage of 1 and 2 cent coins in Belgium and the European Central Bank has banned the production of extra coins. The problem has come about due to many of us simply putting our small change into piggy banks or money boxes. The Federal Finance Service is considering measures including launching a campaign to get us to exchange the many thousands of 1 and 2 cent coins we have at home in an effort to address the issue.

Meanwhile, the Federal Economy Minister Kris Peeters (Flemish Christian democrat) has a bill ready that if passed would mean that cash payments would have to be rounded off to the nearest 5 cents.  

The shortage of small change comes despite plenty of 1 and 2 euro coins having been minted.  

"1.6 billion of these coins have been minted, but they are just not in circulation”, the Federal Finance Service’s Francis Adyns told VRT News.  

"They are mainly in all types money boxes or they remain in our wallets. The European Central Bank won’t allow any more coins to be made as they too wouldn’t circulate.  

But how can this be addressed? "Collection campaigns need to be considered in which people are asked to bring their 1 and 2 cent coins to the bank free of charge at the National Bank. A normal bank would charge for this. Or you could hope that people would donate them to good causes”, Mr Adyns added.   

The Finance Department spokesman went on to say that an alternative would be to make guidelines allowing traders to round off their prices (up or down) that are now optional be made obligatory. However, this would require a change in the law.  

Meanwhile the Federal Economy Minister’s Kris Peeters (Flemish Christian democrat) spokeswoman Kris Peeters’ (CD&V) spokeswoman Miet Deckers told VRT News that a bill making rounding off amounts paid in cash is ready to be put before parliament.  

Under the new bill prices that end in 1, 2, 6 or 7 eurocent would be rounded down to the nearest multiple of 5 eurocents. The rest would be rounded up.    

The bill will be put before parliament at the start of the parliamentary year. Its passage through parliament is expected to take a few months.