One Government backbencher is calling for measures to be put in place to rein in what he considers to be “aggressive” bank fees.
Member of Parliament for St Michael West Central Ian Gooding-Edghill said his constituents have been bitterly complaining about the high bank fees they have to pay in order to carry out some transactions.
“We have reached a point now where we have got to look at this. So I say that this aggressive level of fees and bank charges must somehow form the basis for some discussion,” said Gooding-Edghill, adding that the fees being charged are sometimes “too onerous”.
“They are questioning why it is they have to pay $35 some months, why it is they have to pay $1.50 at a minimum if you don’t take an electronic statement and it is mailed to you, and if you miss and forget to insert the date [on a cheque] and it is returned you have to pay $35, and if you forget to sign the cheque it is returned and you have to pay $35. I don’t think these things are right,” insisted Gooding-Edghill.
In recent years commercial banks in Barbados have announced new or increased fees for over the counter transactions, monthly charges and cashing of cheques without an account with the bank.
Gooding-Edghill said while he understood banks were in the business of making money, they were already making a lot of profits off the savings of residents, and therefore the charges were questionable and required either legislation or other measures to control them.
“I don’t know what is the solution. I don’t know if a private member’ bill will solve it, but I really believe that the people who sent us here sent us here to represent their interests and I believe that the time has come where we have now to start looking at this matter through meetings or whatever means or avenues we have to. We have to start looking at these things because these fees are confusing constituents . . . and are causing people a lot of stress,” he lamented.
He also pointed out that while it was accepted that more business was being carried out using technology, there were still many of his constituents who did not have the resources to do so.
His comments came during the debate on the Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (Prevention Legislation) Amendment Bill in Parliament on Tuesday.
Gooding-Edghill said while it was necessary for transparency when it came to politically-exposed persons, he believed the net of scrutiny should be cast wider.
Insisting that he was not questioning anyone’s wealth, he said there were people of “tremendous wealth” who should be held to the same “very high standards” politicians and their families were held.
“I believe it would be a good idea for this country to move to a situation where you also have unexplained wealth legislation because often times there are persons who would come to a conclusion that a person has this and a person has that,” said Gooding-Edghill, who said other Caribbean countries were currently looking at similar legislation.
“I am not questioning anybody’s wealth, but I think the time has come where there is a need for such legislation in Barbados and I will leave that to the Attorney General to respond to,” he said.