Romania to unveil its new currency

BUCHAREST (AP) – The National Bank unveiled its new banknotes yesterday, two months before they come into circulation to ease Romania’s eventual transition to adopting the euro. After a decade of high inflation, Romania is cutting four zeros off its currency, the leu. Inflation last year stood at 9 percent, the first time it has fallen below double-digit figures since the end of communism in 1989. The bills will come into circulation on July 1, and there will be a period when both currencies will be used concurrently until Jan. 1, 2007, when the old leu will become obsolete and when Romania hopes to join the European Union. Romania is aiming to adopt the euro by 2014, but must meet strict fiscal criteria in order to do so. One new leu will be equivalent to 10,000 old lei – slightly more than 30 US cents, or 25 euro cents. The highest bill of the new banknotes, unveiled by National Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu, will be worth 500 lei (130 euros, $170). They will be similar in appearance to the old ones, depicting the Atheneum, a 19th-century cultural monument where concerts are held in downtown Bucharest.

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