The printing company’s Stockholm-based paper mill has been commissioned to print 8 billion South African rand ($1.25 billion) in 100-rand bills, according to a report in the South African newspaper Sunday Times.
The newspaper reported that the move to contract an overseas firm follows a discovery in May 2010 that the existing 100-rand bills were missing a key security feature, due to a fault in the South African printing company’s machines.
Although the machines were fixed, the decision to print elsewhere remained unchanged.
South Africa’s Reserve Bank was concerned that faulty bills would be an embarrassment for South Africa during the 2010 Football World Cup, revealed insiders to the Sunday Times.
Employees at the South African printing company SA Bank Note Company are now sitting idle, yet continue to pick up their pay checks. At the same time, outsourcing the bank note printing to Sweden is costing the reserve bank more, as Sweden’s high labour costs and transportation fees are entered into the equation.
Economist Mike Schüssler confirmed to the Sunday Times that printing banknotes elsewhere is normal for countries, but was concerned about security weaknesses compromising South African currency.
“The important thing is whether we have made the right security decision, and that our currency is safe,” he said to the newspaper.