Monday 24 October 2016

1c and 2c coins 'to be taken out of circulation'

Michael Noonan
Michael Noonan

Irish people may soon be saying goodbye to 1c and 2c coins.

The Government is set to approve withdrawing the coins from circulation following a local trial, which has been branded a "massive success".

It's understood that Finance Minister Michael Noonan will bring the memo recommending the withdrawal of the coins, which cost more to mint than they are worth, to Cabinet as early as tomorrow.

Last year, the National Payments Plan (NPP) recommended that a trial in Wexford, in which one and two-cent coins were taken out of circulation, be rolled out nationally.

One and two-cent coins are minted more frequently than other coins, but go out of circulation quickly as people stockpile them.

The results of the rounding trial, which ran from September 16 to November 17, 2013, showed strong support for the measure from both consumers and retailers.

During the trial, retailers rounded cash transactions to the nearest five cent at the cash register, removing the need for one and two-cent coins in change.

Five EU member states - the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Hungary - have already adopted a rounding policy.

At the time, NPP programme manager Ronnie O'Toole said that prices in Wexford did not go up as a result of the initiative.

The NPP ran a 'mystery shopping' survey, in which it went into a number of shops and bought a set number of items before and after the trial. There was no change in the price of the goods.

Madeline Quirke, CEO of Wexford Chamber of Commerce, said the programme was hugely successful with businesses and consumers alike.

"We have had very little resistance from customers or businesses . . . as far as we are concerned it has been a massive success," she said.

"We would welcome a nationwide roll-out and feel the time and expense spared by businesses will serve the economy well in the long run."

Mayor of Wexford town George Lawlor argued that doing away with the coins made "no real difference to the consumer" but helped businesses.

It costs 1.65c to mint each one-cent coin and 2.07c to mint each two-cent coin.

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