Jamaica welcomes the Shearer - New $5,000 note named after the late PM

Published: Friday | May 15, 2009

Jamaica's central bank will issue a $5,000 bill on Monday, a move more likely driven by a wish to celebrate the life of the late Prime Minister, Hugh Shearer - whose image will be on the currency - rather than an immediate demand for a bigger note to store value.

The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) announced its plan yesterday, without giving a rationale for the launch of the new note, the first since the $1,000 bill was issued eight years ago.

"The governor (Derick Lati-beaudiere) will explain it all on Monday," a central bank spokesperson told The Gleaner yesterday.

Normally, central banks feel compelled to issue higher value notes when their economies are wracked by inflation and it requires more and more to make purchases.

Not the case

That is not the case in Jamaica where inflation last year was around 17 per cent and is projected to reach 14 per cent in 2009.Significantly, Monday's launch of the $5,000 note will be on the 86th anniversary of the birth of Shearer, who died in 2004. Perhaps more widely hailed as a labour leader, including his presidency of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union where he succeeded its founder, Shearer also had success and respect as a politician.

A member of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), he served as the island's prime minister from 1967 to 1972 and was deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs in Edward Seaga's administration of the 1980s. Shearer also had a diplomatic stint as Jamaica's deputy chief of mission.

Latibeaudiere will make a presentation of a specially packaged proof of the note to Shearer's widow, the specialist in geriatrics medicine, Dr Denise Eldemire-Shearer, at an afternoon function at the BOJ's headquarters in downtown Kingston.

It will become more widely available in September, the BOJ said.