A Government Minister has called on fellow lawmakers to review fees charged by commercial banks in Barbados and put a policy in place to regulate them.
Minister of Transport Dr William Duguid gave the hint on Tuesday as he joined debate on the Shipping Incentives Amendment Bill, which was later passed.
Without naming the individual or the bank, Duguid said he received a message on Tuesday morning from a concerned resident “that a particular bank in this country is now changing how they charge [small businesses]”.
Duguid said: “In the past when a company goes to make a deposit they used to charge you a service fee of $10, but there is now a particular bank in this country that wants to change that and say ‘we are not going to charge you a flat rate of $10, but we are going to charge you a per cent on what you deposit’. But that can’t be fair Mr Speaker. It can’t be fair.”
He complained that as Government tried to support the growth of small businesses so they could “do the right thing”, employ people and invest in the country, the banks were “clawing away” at them.
He said: “So the banking system in this country we need to look at it, it cannot continue like that.
“I hope that the banks are listening, and I hope they rescind that position and come with something better because it cannot be wherever you go they are going to grind and grind small businesses in this country.
“We cannot allow it and it is something we have to look at because this Government is here for the people of this country, and if we have to protect them against the banks we should be doing that.”
He argued that the “banks have done well in Barbados, all of them have done well; if they weren’t doing well they wouldn’t be here, they would be gone. So if they have done well here they have to do well by us too”.
The Central Bank is the regulator of commercial banks in Barbados.
Highlighting the meagre interest rates that commercial banks were offering on deposits, Duguid insisted that charging a percentage on the deposits made by businesses meant that the small business owners were losing out while the banks were benefiting all around.
He declared: “You are paying them to hold your money, you are paying them to take the money that you are paying them to hold, and you are paying them every day on top of it for having the account.
“Well, soon you are not going to have any money to give them, you are better off keeping the money under your bed.”