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BDT - Bangladeshi Taka



The history of currency in Bangladesh had been parallel to that of the history of currency in India as Bangladesh was once of part of Bengal in India. The first coins in the country are said to have been minted in as early as 2nd century BC though no proof for the same is available. The earliest evidence of coins comes from the late Gupta period in which gold coins were issued. Later on when Muslim rulers began to raid Northern India including Bangladesh, Indian, Islamic and Burmese coins that were prevailing for over 500 years got replaced with coins with Arabic inscriptions. The Delhi Sultanate was established that gave way to silver coins called "tankas" in large amounts followed by the coins issued by local governors between 1339 till 1538.

In 1556, Mughals took control of the Delhi Sultanate again and under the reign of first Mughal emperor, Akbar, silver rupees and gold mohurs were issued. During the 18th century, the world witnessed the collapse of Mughal Empire and the British started to gain control of Indian subcontinent. The British East India Company annexed Bengal and the circulation of "Calcutta rupees" started within its territory. In 1818, the Madras rupee also called the "Company’s rupee" was made the standard currency for all India and from 1838 on, Calcutta rupees ceased to be the legal tender. The British made an effort to make India gain a quasi-bimetallic status in terms of currency and as a result gold mohur was also made legal tender, though only for government payments. But with in a short span of time, it was also withdrawn and leaving the country to a silver standard. In 1862, the control over India got transferred to the Indian colonial government from the East India Company.

The silver rupee was standardised and its value was pegged to the British pound. Indian rupee’s value was based upon the change in the value of silver and gold but in 1893, the currency was made to adopt a gold standard. An exchange standard with Pound Sterling was fixed in 1899 making the British gold sovereign a legal tender in India. The historical event of partition of Bengal took place in 1905, dividing it into two parts, Muslim dominated east Bengal and Hindu dominated west Bengal. Though this partition was reversed in 1912, it provided with first signs of formation of Bangladesh in future. The banknotes in Indian rupee denomination were printed by the government of India from 1861 till 1937, when the Reserve Bank of India was established and after that, the bank took over this function. When India got independent, Pakistan was also formed with East Bengal as a part of Pakistan known by the name East Pakistan.

During the time, East Bengal was a part of Pakistan, Pakistan rupee was used as the official currency in there. In 1972, East Pakistan BDTgot its independence and was renamed as Bangladesh. Although all this time rupee was national currency of India including Bengal, the word "taka" was popular among the Bengali people to refer to money in general and hence the currency unit "taka" was created as and adopted as a national currency of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has got the basic unit of currency as "taka" that is divided into 100 equal paise, a subunit also used for rupee form of money. It also has a wide range of denominations issued in both coinage and paper currency form that results in a bit complex structure of currency. Moreover, the old banknotes still in circulation along with the new ones makes it bulkier as compared to other currency structures. The Bank of Bangladesh, that was once State Bank of Pakistan looks after the currency flow in the country and performs issuing and printing function, as it serves as the central bank of the country. The coinage in the currency is issued in total 8 face values namely 1 paisa, 5, 10, 25 and 50 paise, 1, 2 and 5 taka. Among these face values, most of them are not frequently used especially the smaller denominations excluding 1, 2 and 5 taka, which are frequently used. All the coins have the Bangladeshi national emblem embossed on their obverse sides with different symbolic images and their denominations on their backsides. Also, some coins had been minted time to time in different shapes and colours that add up to various different versions of coins.

The banknotes in Bangladeshi taka are printed in 8 face values ranging from 1 taka to 500 taka including 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 taka. The Government of Bangladesh issues the two of the smallest face values i.e. 1 and 2 taka banknotes though they are gradually being replaced by taka coins. The rest of the notes are issued by the Bangladesh bank and there are currently 35 banknotes in circulation in total of all the denominations. All the notes can be differentiated from each other on the basis of their colors, and also different symbolic images on the front and the backsides of notes. The last time 1 taka note was issued was in the year 1979 and 2 taka note was issued once in 1988. Other banknotes had been reissued with new colors and images time to time. In the year 2000, the central bank came up with a polymer note of 10 taka but that proved to be unsuccessful and unpopular. The recent issue of banknotes in 2006 that had only 4 banknotes i.e. 5, 10, 20 and 100 taka was the 10th issue of banknotes in the country.

Currency Profile

Taka has been the official currency unit of Bangladesh since 1972. The subunit of taka that divides 1 unit of the currency into 100 equal parts is "paise". It is often depicted by "?" or "?" symbols in the local language of the country and as "Tk" in the English language. According to the International Organization for Standardization, 4217 standard, Bangladeshi taka is assigned with BDT as the currency code and 050 as the numeric code. The word "taka" is derived from the Sanskrit word "tanka" that was used as a denomination for a silver coin of a certain mass. The wide usage of the word in India for money reference in general especially in Bengal was the reason that it was made the national currency of this "Bangla" speaking country.

Bangladesh is an underdeveloped nation and encounters major threat from the ever-growing population. Though it has made remarkable improvements since the time it gained independence, still the overpopulation factor keeps it behind as compared to other countries. The Bangladesh economy is growing at a rapid pace. Plus or minus of 19% Bangladesh’s economy consists of agriculture, 27% is industry-based, and 52% is service-based. Top industries are garments, paper, chemical fertilizer, shipbuilding, textiles, jute, and leather. Export products are ships, frozen seafood, leather, garments, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, and cement. Import products are raw cotton, petroleum, crude oil, steel, iron, chemicals, machinery, and equipment. Bangladesh’s unemployment rate is estimated at 5.1%. Agricultural products are mainly rice and jute. Rice is harvested three times a year. In 2009 Bangladesh exported more products than India. In 2010 there was an estimated per capita income of $1,700. The solid GDP growth is due to the strict Bangladesh currency regulations.

The huge garment industry in Bangladesh is counted among the largest in the world and also a huge jute industry that earns the foreign exchange of the country. The country is able to feed its massive population as it also produces rice up to third highest quantity in the world. Bangladesh was named one of the "Next eleven" countries along with major players like Egypt, Indonesia and Pakistan. The foreign direct investment has been observed with a sharp rise in the recent years. But on the other hand, this fact remains that Bangladesh is the poorest countries in South Asia as half of its population is living under the poverty line and the number of poor people stays third highest in the world after India and China.

The country has received huge foreign aids since the time it is independent and the economy runs on high trade deficits. Also, the country faces natural obstacles in the way of its growth and development in the form of frequent cyclones, floods and droughts. The currency of Bangladesh isn’t strong enough and there is more scope of improvement in currency status. The flow of currency is managed by imposing import and export restrictions that are more than 500 taka of the local currency cannot be imported or exported. Regarding the foreign currency, amounts more than 3000 US dollars has to be declared and foreign currency can be exported only up to the amount imported.

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