Statutory Responsibility – The Bank of Jamaica Act

Section 12(1) of the Bank of Jamaica Act gives the Bank of Jamaica (the Bank)  “the sole right and authority to issue notes and coins in the Island”.

Ministerial Approval

  • Section (14) (1) (a) stipulates that the Minister may, after consultation with the Bank, approve the denomination, form and design of notes and coins to be issued by the Bank.  However, this is subject to Section 14 (2) which states   “that if the Minister disagrees with a recommendation of the Bank he shall require the Bank to reconsider the recommendation and may, if a recommendation acceptable to him is not thereafter furnished by the Bank, exercise the power aforesaid on that occasion otherwise than on the recommendation of the Bank”.
  • Section 14 (1) (b) gives the Minister authority, after consultation with the Bank, to determine the standard weight and composition of coins to be issued by the Bank.
  • Section 16 (3) gives the Minister the authority, on the recommendation of the Bank, to direct that specified notes and coins cease to be legal tender (demonetized).

Currency Design
The design of a nation’s currency is potentially one of the most controversial responsibilities of a Central Bank. Many people see their national currency as a symbol of their independence and nationalism or as a reflection of their political philosophy. When contemplating the issue of new currency the issuing authority seeks to gain and maintain public confidence and acceptance. Because of the high visibility, the portrait, more than any other design element, can greatly aid the acceptance process.

Front of Currency
The policy is to select human subjects as the image for the front of the banknotes and coins. The exception to this rule is the one cent coin, where the National Fruit –Blighia Sapida– (Ackee) is depicted on the coin. However, this coin was demonetised in February 2018.

In selecting the subject, the current policy of the Bank of Jamaica is to consider for selection only deceased Jamaica nationals falling into the following two (2) groups in the following order:

  • National Heroes
  • Prime Ministers/Premiers in chronological order of service

Back of Currency
The back of the Jamaica banknotes must have vignettes depicting Jamaican themes, such as flora, fauna, historic sites, monuments, popular tourist attractions and infrastructure. For coins, the back (obverse) features the Jamaican Coat of Arms.

Security Features
Jamaica banknotes must have the most appropriate security features available at the time of their design to ensure their integrity. This includes a number of covert, machine-readable features to facilitate automated sorting of the notes, as well as security features that can be used by the general public.
At present, there are no machine-readable security features for coins issued by the Bank. The industry worldwide is just beginning to develop this technology.

Structure of Notes and Coin
The main tools utilised by the Bank in determining the structure of notes and coins is the “D-Metric Model” and the “Koeze Model”. The critical variable in the “D-Metric Model” for determining the most efficient sequence of values for notes and coins is the average daily wage (purchasing power) for the country (D).

The D-Metric Model indicates the following:

  • Lowest Coin Denomination – D/5000
  • Highest Coin Denomination – D/50
  • Lowest Note Denomination – D/20
  • Highest Denomination – 5D

The Note-Coin Boundary is between the highest coin denomination and the lowest note denomination.

For the “Koeze Model”, the average circulation life of a banknote is used to determine the Note-Coin Boundary where once the average circulation life of a banknote falls below a specified threshold,the coining of that banknote should be considered.

Introduction of New Denomination

Highest Value Denomination
In considering the introduction of a higher value banknote, Bank of Jamaica is guided by inter alia, the D-Metric Model, the internationally acceptable principle that the highest value denomination should not represent more than sixty percent (60%) of the value of notes in circulation and, because of the openness of the Jamaican economy, the Bank also considers the equivalent of the highest denomination in the country’s reserve currency (the USD). As a guide, this equivalent should be no less than USD25.00.

Subject to the results of the analysis utilising the three factors mentioned above, the Bank uses the “binary decimal triplet” (1,2,5) in determining the currency structure and the highest denomination.

Other Denominations
The Bank recognises that it may become necessary to introduce a new denomination that is lower in value than the existing highest denomination for the convenience of the public.  This was done in 1988, when the $50 was introduced following the introduction of the then highest denomination, the $100 in 1986. The use of the binary decimal triplet would still be applicable in determining the denomination to be introduced.

Coining of a Denomination
A note may be replaced with a coin of similar value when the Bank is re-balancing its denomination structure based on the D-Metric and Koeze Models

Portrait Conversion
It is the general practice to use the same subject on the new coin whenever a note is coined.  Departure from this practice will only be done under exceptional circumstances.

Whenever denominations of notes or coins are replaced or withdrawn from circulation, the Bank will act in accordance with Section 16 (1) of the BOJ Act, giving the prescribed minimum time of three months’ notice in the Gazette for the public to redeem such currency.  After the expiry of this specified time, the Bank will take the necessary legal action to have such currency demonetised.  Thereafter, it will cease to be legal tender.


1c1Blighia Sapida (Ackee)Coat of ArmsJuly 1975Coin
10c1The Rt. Excellent Paul BogleCoat of ArmsMarch 1995Coin
25c1The Rt. Excellent Marcus GarveyCoat of ArmsMarch 1995Coin
$1The Rt. Excellent Sir Alexander BustamanteCoat of ArmsDecember 1994Coin
$5The Rt. Excellent Norman ManleyCoat of ArmsJune 1994Coin
$10The Rt. Excellent George William GordonCoat of ArmsMarch 1999Coin
$20The Rt. Excellent Marcus GarveyCoat of ArmsApril 2000Coin
$50The Rt. Excellent Samuel SharpeDoctor’s Cave BeachJuly 1988Banknote
$100The Rt. Hon. Sir Donald SangsterDunn’s River FallsDecember 1986Banknote
$500The Rt. Excellent Nanny of the MaroonsPort RoyalJune 1994Banknote
$1000The Rt. Hon. Michael ManleyJamaica HouseApril 2000Banknote
$5000The Rt. Hon. Hugh ShearerHighway 2000September 2009Banknote

1Effective 15 February 2018, the 1c, 10c and 25c coins were demonetised.