Hryvnia, the currency of Ukraine

Scan of 500 Ukrainian hryvnia currency note with unnatural color, 2006

500 Hryvnia currency note of Ukraine with unnatural color issued in 2006, obverse and reverse sides

The Hryvnia (sometimes also spelled as Hryvnya, Hrivna, Gryvna, Hryvni, or Grivna) is the national currency of Ukraine from 2 September 1996. The Standard English spelling for the Ukrainian banknote is Hryvnia, which is also the spelling, used by the National Bank of Ukraine, which is the central bank of Ukraine.

The Hryvnia replaced the Karbovanets, which underwent serious hyperinflation in the early 1990s following the disintegration of the erstwhile Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or USSR) in September 1996. Hryvnia was introduced as the official currency of Ukraine from August 26, 1996 by the President’s Decree of that date (but published on August 29).

The Ukrainian parliament adopted The Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine on August 24, 1991, establishing the country as a democratic state, independent from the Soviet Union. Ukraine was one of the founding republics of the Soviet Union, and it is the largest contiguous country on the European continent.

Though coins Hryvnia were minted in 1992, they were not introduced till 1996. In 1996, the first series of Hryvnia banknotes was circulated, which were also dated 1992, by the National Bank of Ukraine.

According to the Ukrainian currency system, one Hryvnia is subdivided into 100 Kopiyok, and coins of the denominations 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, and 1 Hryvnia were issued. Hryvnia banknotes of the denominations 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 Hryvnia were also issued.

The official exchange rate of Hryvnia against some foreign currencies as on 14.03.2011 is shown as 100 USD = 793.5100, 100 EUR = 1092.9013, and 10 RUB = 2.7714 by the website of the National Bank of Ukraine. For the current exchange rate against these currencies, and also the major international currencies, direct from the National Bank of Ukraine, CLICK HERE.

Note: the photo of 500 Hryvnia banknote, obverse and reverse sides, of the 2006 issue series, shown above is a freak with unnatural colors.

Euro: as currency of Belgium

Belgium - Currency

From 1832 to 2002 the currency of Belgium currency was the Belgian franc and in 2002 Belgium switched to the euro. The euro (sign: €, code: EUR) is the official currency of the Eurozone consisting of 16 of the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU). It is also the currency used by the EU institutions. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

Estonia is due to join the eurozone on 1 January 2011. Euro is also used in five other European countries with or without formal agreements. As a result, euro is used daily by about 327 million Europeans. Also over 175 million people worldwide use currencies which are pegged to the euro.

The euro is the second largest reserve currency, a status it inherited from the German mark. Euro is also the second most traded currency in the world after the American dollar. As of June 2010, with more than €800 billion in circulation, the euro is the currency with the highest value of banknotes and coins in circulation in the world, having surpassed the U.S. dollar.

The name of the currency as euro was officially adopted on 16 December 1995, and introduced to world financial markets on 1 January 1999, replacing the former European Currency Unit (ECU) at a ratio of 1:1. Euro coins and banknotes entered circulation on 1 January 2002.

Belgian euro coins feature only a single design for coins with the portrait of King Albert II and his royal monogram. The twelve stars of the EU and the year of imprint are also part of the design of the euro coin by Jan Alfons Keustermans.

In Belgium, though the euro was introduced in 2002, the first sets of coins were minted in advance in 1999, preparing for introduction of euro. Hence the first euro coins of Belgium have the year 1999 imprinted on them instead of 2002.

The National Identifier for Belgium is “BE”. Each year the Royal Belgian Mint issues a limited edition of its Euro coins in proof quality. Also Belgium has a good collection of euro commemorative coins in silver and gold. Their face values range from €10 to €100. These coins are not intended for active circulation and hence generally they do not circulate as a means of settling monetary transactions.

Car scrappage scheme a smokescreen for price rises

Ford Fiesta, originally uploaded by sixate.

Car companies have inflated forecourt prices by up to a third to claw back scrappage discounts, an undercover investigation has found.

Motor manufacturers are accused of using the Government-sponsored “cash-for-bangers” scheme as a smokescreen to usher in inflation-busting increases.

‘What Car?’ magazine sent a team of secret shoppers check on prices at hundreds of car dealers around the country. They found that retail prices overall jumped by an average of nine per cent in the past 12 months.

Ford hit buyers of its Fiesta 1.25 60 Studio with the highest rise of more than 36 per cent. The firm’s Mondeo 1.6 110 Edge, which went up by 19 per cent, also appears in a league table listing the five biggest price rises along with its Focus 1.6 Zetec that jumped 17.6 per cent.

The increases have in many cases wiped out the £2,000 discount given buyers trading in ten-year-old vehicles under the terms of Lord Mandelson’s £400 million scrappage initiative.

The US car giant claimed that price rises in the UK were essential to offset the effect of the weak pound which make foreign-made goods more expensive to import to Britain.

But Peter Lawto, deputy editor of ‘What Car?’, said manufacturers are “hiding price increases” in scrappage scheme deals.

“Some of the price rises take your breath away. We have some sympathy for car manufacturers but this is opportunist so we shouldn’t feel too sorry for them,” he said.

“There is certainly an element of clawing back cash. They are making a killing off those people paying the list price.”

“We are seeing a pinch at both ends with prices going up and discounts falling.”

The secret shoppers also found that hagglers are now offered smaller discounts – around £200 less than a year ago.

They were able to negotiate an average £1,699 off the windscreen price aside from any scrappage discount.

Renault is currently the most generous manufacturer with a typical £2,009 off – 13 per cent on average – while Mini is the stingiest with savings of just £125 or 1 per cent off its cars.

Ford refuted the accusation that it has taken advantage of the scheme to usher in price increases.

A company spokesman said Sterling has devalued by more than 30 per cent in the last 18 months and claimed that price rises were kept below that figure by cutting production costs to “limit the impact.”

“The weakness of the Pound has had a huge negative impact on Ford’s UK business,” he said.

“The sustained and severe weakness of Sterling against the euro since the end of 2007 has forced the majority of the UK auto industry to raise prices.”

“Price increases are driven by the need to maintain a viable business and to recover relative cost increases caused by the weakness of the Pound over an extended period.”

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the pound was worth 23 per cent less last year against the euro than in 2007 and also insists that this is to blame for the majority of increases.

“The exchange rate has been the main driver on price changes,” said a spokesman.