Residents keep exchanging former currency but still hold nearly half a billion litas
More than two and a half years after the adoption of the single currency of the European Union in Lithuania, LTL 480 million is still to be returned to the Bank of Lithuania, which issued litas. This is almost one-tenth of total litas that was in circulation during the adoption of the euro.
‘The pace of exchange of litas into euro is decelerating compared to that following the adoption of the new currency, as currency exchangers have been decreasing in number. However, this year the average amount of litas exchanged is larger than last year. At one point we exchanged even half a million litas. Records of this magnitude were only seen when the litas exchange process began, whereas several times this year the amounts exchanged exceeded 100 thousand litas,’ said Egidijus Paleckis, Head of the Policy, Issue and Control Division of the Cash Department at the Bank of Lithuania.
According to him, it is not expected that all litas will be returned to the Bank of Lithuania: over more than 20 years of use, some of the money has been destroyed or hidden (and their hiding places forgotten), while other litas has made it abroad or been kept by people as relics.
In the first half of this year, over LTL 13 million have been exchanged at the Bank of Lithuania cash offices, located in the country’s two largest cities. In 2017, a single operation exchanges on average approximately LTL 700, while in 2016 the figure was around LTL 665.
In January–July of this year, about 19 thousand litas exchange operations were carried out (throughout 2016 – 47 thousand). Nearly LTL 7 million was exchanged and about 11 thousand litas exchange operations were carried out in Vilnius, and more than LTL 6 million litas were exchanged and about 8 thousand exchange operations were carried out in Kaunas.
‘Exchange of the former currency is still a significant part of our cash offices’ work. Exchange of litas banknotes and coins only comprises slightly less than half of the total operations carried out in Vilnius and Kaunas. A relatively small amount of litas remains with residents; they will be exchanged free of charge as long as there are at least some litas left. We invite people who have litas to do so at their convenience,’ said Egidijus Paleckis.
On 31 July 2017, calculated based on their former value, there was still LTL 480 million outside the Bank of Lithuania (about 8% of litas in circulation on 1 January 2015), of which LTL 18.7 million was comprised of numismatic litas coins. The number of such coins increased by LTL 0.2 million, compared to the euro adoption on 1 January 2015, as the Bank of Lithuania has continued selling them after the introduction of the single currency. Litas banknotes valued at LTL 345 million (6% of what was in circulation on 1 January 2015) and litas circulation coins, worth about 115 million (58%), are still unaccounted for.
As legal tender, litas are no longer valid from 16 January 2015, after having circulated for two weeks alongside the euro. The Bank of Lithuania exchanges all litas issued since 1993 for an unlimited time free of charge, without limiting their amount.