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Europe

Belgium to Scrap Small Change

Belgian authorities announced Wednesday that they would cease production of one and two euro cent coins from Jan. 2005, although the coins will remain legal tender.

Following a similar move in the Netherlands and Finland, Belgian finance minister Didier Reynders said in an interview with La Dernière Heure, "I am in favor of scrapping these coins." However, Reynders also sounded a note of caution in an attempt to counter arguments that a sudden withdrawal of the coins could lead to price inflation as retailers round up their prices. The phasing-out would be done "in a progressive way so as not to revive the debate on price inflation and the claims by shop owners that they have been forced to put prices up," he said. "For traders, it would be wiser to keep a psychologically favourable price, choosing, for example, €9.95 rather than €10." Germany is also considering phasing out its small change.

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