Former parliamentarian Hamilton Hammie-La Lashley has led a scathing attack on commercial banks in the wake of the latest announcement that they are to slash interest rates on savings to close to zero per cent.
The former Minister of Social Transformation painted the banks as heartless, stopping just short of calling on Barbadians to boycott them.
He cited as an example, the eviction in November 2016 of businesswoman Anne Riley-Fox following a two-year battle with CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank.
“I have a serious concern with how the commercial banks in this country are dealing with poor people and customers, particularly those people who take out a mortgage with them.
“The kind of heartless approach that is taken by the bank towards her . . . in relation to the repayment of their mortgage is something that must be checked into,” Lashley told Barbados TODAY.
With warrant in hand, court marshals last November enforced an eviction order issued by the High Court, after Riley-Fox, 63, lost the battle to keep her Fairview Heights, St George home of 36 years.
The former Moods & Options stores owner had been unable to pay the mortgage after her business folded in 2012.
A pressure group, Fairness in Action Committee raised the asking price of approximately $750,000 and offered to purchase the house on Riley-Fox’s behalf.
However, in a letter dated December 7, 2016, the bank, through its attorneys Hastings Attorney-at-law, replied “it cannot at this stage entertain your offer”.
An outraged Lashley described its response as “an insult”.
“It is an insult to Barbadians, it’s hurtful that a woman who has contributed so much to Barbados . . . would be treated this way,” he said.
The social activist said it was time the authorities reestablish an indigenous bank to serve the needs of Barbadians.
In the meantime, he recommended that every Barbadian should seriously consider taking their business to local credit unions.
“We have to be more nationalistic and call for our own Barbadian bank, and it is also suggested that we take more pride in our credit union which is the only financial institution that Barbadians own.
“Barbadians really need to re-examine when they are going for mortgage and who they are taking this mortgage with, and I’m suggesting to more Barbadians because of the crude approach and the crude dispensation of customer care, instead of going to the commercials banks, go to the credit unions in Barbados,” he stressed.