The recent revelation that Government is considering re-establishing an indigenous bank in Barbados, 20 years after the Owen Arthur administration sold the Barbados National Bank, is getting the support of the Opposition People’s Party for Democracy and Development (PdP).
In a recent interview with Barbados TODAY, Opposition Leader, Joseph Atherley, said he agreed with Prime Minister Mia Mottley that Barbadians are being increasingly disadvantaged by the ever-tightening banking regulations.
“I am sure that it will always be good if we were to have an indigenous banking presence. I think the extent to which the Barbados economy can be grown on the platform by reference to indigenous dynamics is a good thing. So that is something that I really believe can be good,” said Atherley.
Speaking at a townhall meeting in Brooklyn over the weekend, Prime Minister Mia Mottley contended that with banking regulations tightening over fears of losing correspondent banking, resulting in Barbadians being unbanked or finding it difficult to even open a bank account, Government is again considering getting involved in commercial banking.
Mottley pointed to the fact that the banks require a utility bill in a prospective customer’s name before opening an account, a requirement that is difficult to meet for persons who reside with their parents or in rented premises. She revealed that her Cabinet has held policy discussions on the issue.
“If I was the Government in 2009, I would have been loathed to take further steps to come out of commercial banking given how much the world has changed. I understand why we sold the national bank when we did but I see how much the world has changed since then and we are going to have to find some way of defending the people of Barbados by having some indigenous banking presence here again.”
However, Atherley, who was part of the Arthur Cabinet when the decision was made to sell BNB, made it clear that he still stands behind that decision.
“This is not to suggest that divestment of the Barbados bank that we had before was an error. Some would suggest that economically, the country benefitted significantly from that. Things have changed now and with all of the threats that we face internationally, it would be good if we could platform ourselves indigenously,” he pointed out.
The Opposition Leader also noted that Government would need to put a lot of thought into designing the structure of the new bank, as it must meet the country’s needs within a globalised context.
“I don’t think it is a case of just having another national bank. One would have to understand that we operate within a global market and in the context of such, small nations must be able to find those niche avenues through which we can establish those support planks for our economy. Care would have to be taken because it is not going to be as simple as putting up a sign and opening a bank,” he argued. [email protected]