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Canada set to drop the penny

Cost of producing the coin has become higher than its value, government says

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Gulf News

Ottawa:  Canada's puny penny coin, loved by some but an annoyance to many, will be withdrawn from circulation this year because it costs too much to make and is a pecuniary pest, the government announced on Thursday.

"The penny is a currency without any currency in Canada," Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told reporters.

Ottawa said the penny retained only one 20th of its original purchasing power. It costs 1.6 Canadian cents to produce each one cent coin and stamping out the penny will save around C$11 million (Dh40.45 million) a year.

"Financial institutions face increasing costs for handling, storing and transporting pennies. Over time, the penny's burden to the economy has grown relative to its value as a means of payment," it said. Other nations that have either ceased to produce or have removed low denomination coins include Australia, Brazil, Finland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Britain. "There are 30 billion pennies in circulation and every year they are minting more. It was just one of those no-brainer slam dunks. It's a place where we can save money," said opposition legislator Pat Martin, who has long campaigned for the penny to be abolished.

The Royal Canadian Mint will stop distributing penny coins to financial institutions later this year. As the coin slowly disappears, prices for cash transactions will be rounded up or down to the closest five cents.