Not long ago, Taka used to be a 'key' medium of expression when people wrote love notes on them, the universal male name + female name, phone number, address, and advice on Tk500 or Tk100 notes – smaller the note, more the 'expressions.'
It is hard to know if the old feelings and love expressed on Taka notes sustained. But the Taka itself has a very slim chance of being sustained for long because its average lifespan is merely six months. When Mezbaul Haque, executive director and spokesperson of Bangladesh Bank told us this, we wondered if Taka's lifespan is really that short since we often have older notes in our wallets.
"You may have kept a note with care for 30 years. But when a note issued yesterday gets drenched in water today, it is wasted [damaged beyond use]. New notes are often destroyed in 15 days. What is its longevity then? How much of my currency remains intact for 30 years? One or two notes can't indicate a trend," Mezbaul Haque said.
It is very common to get a damaged note, and the struggle to hide the damage is real. But eventually, soon enough, the notes reach a point where no amount of hiding can keep it going.
So what happens when a Taka note reaches the end of its lifespan? The Bangladesh Bank spokesperson explained the journey in detail.
People stuck with such damaged notes, in the end, exchange them either from exchangers on the Gulistan footpath or from the Bangladesh Bank. There is a certain refund policy based on the damage categories. The wasted notes are finally rested with Bangladesh Bank.
This is one way wasted money finally gets back to the central bank.
And the major way is the wasted money taken out of the vaults of various banks.
The banks, first of all, deposit Taka to the Bangladesh Bank – the taka that exceeds its respective vault limit. Since the amount of this deposit is, generally, huge, it is not possible to count them immediately.
So the central bank has a guaranty vault concept.
"Suppose Sonali Bank comes with Tk100 crore. This bank has a guaranty vault with us where it will deposit the money. We will keep that amount in the guarantee vault and credit Tk100 crore in their account. All the banks deposit money in the guarantee vault like this," Mezbaul said.
Taka is taken out of the vault and assigned to the note examination hall for counting. Notes are counted every day in the hall. Representatives from each bank whose money is being counted are invited on the day.
The central bank officials sort the money while counting – sort it into "re-issuable" and "not re-issuable." They separate them. The Taka, which are re-issuable is taken to the exchange vault again. After counting, it is returned to the vaults from where the Taka are given to the banks.
And the notes that are not reissuable are taken to the destruction process. There are also auto-sorting machines which tear apart the Taka which are found non-re-issuable. "The amount of Taka destroyed is deducted from the supply," Mezbaul said.
"Taka in our stock is just a paper as long as it doesn't come out in a formal process. When it is in the stock vault, I don't assign assets against it. When we take it to the exchange vault from the stock vault, my accounting process begins since equivalent assets are assigned against it," he said. "It now becomes a currency."
Mezbaul explained the 'birth process' in between the death process of the currency.
When the death of money is announced, meaning it is sorted as wasted or not re-issuable, it has two ways to perish – burning and tearing up.
"We follow both the processes. The ones that go to auto-sorting machines, process the Taka itself and tear them apart. And others are hollowed and given for destruction by burning."
There are also rules and procedures in place which dictate how much 'wasted' money can be burned in the chulli (furnace) on a certain day. They have chulli in all branches except in Mymensingh. The Taka are finally burned as a process of getting rid of the wasted ones.
There is a massive amount spent on the destruction and printing of Taka each year. "We spend around Tk500-Tk600 crore in printing money," the spokesperson said.
When asked how they maintain the security of the Taka exanimation hall, he said, the staff are checked before and after the examination.