Following is a question by the Hon Ng Leung-sing and a reply by the Secretary for Financial Services, Mr Stephen Ip, in the Legislative Council today (April 24):
Two kinds of legal tender of $10 denomination are concurrently in circulation in Hong Kong, namely the banknotes which have been used for years and the coins which were first issued in 1994. It has been reported that the Police seized a total of 460 000 counterfeit $10 coins last year, representing a triple increase over the preceding year. On the other hand, while $10 banknotes are no longer issued, there is still a certain demand for them. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the quantity of $10 counterfeit coins seized by the Police in each of the past five years, and the amount of counterfeit $10 banknotes seized by the Police during the three years before and after the first issuance of the $10 coins;
(b) how banknotes compare to coins in terms of security features, durability and issuance cost; and
(c) whether it has considered changing the existing arrangements for the issuance of legal tender of $10 denomination, including reverting to issuing $10 currency notes; if so, of the details; if not, the reason for that?
(a) The quantity of counterfeit $10 coins seized by the Police in each of the past five years was as follows -
Year No. of coins
As for counterfeit $10 banknotes, the amount seized by the Police during the three years before the first issuance of $10 coins by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) in November 1994, i.e. 1992-1994, was only 12; whereas the total number seized in the years 1995-1997 was 259.
(b) Generally speaking, banknotes contain more security features than coins, including holographic windowed security thread, embedded fluorescent fibres, security metal thread, watermark, highlight watermark, intaglio printing, fluorescent denomination blocks, concealed denomination and see-through patterns. As for coins, the features include bi-metals, alternate plain and milled edge, milled edge with raised lettering in a groove, milled edge or scalloped edge, detailed and clear three-dimensional relief of the bauhinia, as well as clear and sharp wording (Chinese characters, English letters and numbers) using a regular, well-defined font.
In general, the life span of coins ranges from 15 to 30 years while that of banknotes is about two years. The production cost of $10 coins is higher than that of banknotes.
(c) HKMA and the Police have been conducting reviews and assessments of matters relating to the legal tender, which include counterfeit coins and notes. They have also been considering actively various options, having regard to the needs of the general public, to improve the circulation of banknotes and coins, to enhance the security features, and to prevent and tackle crimes related to counterfeit notes and coins.
End/Wednesday, April 24, 2002