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by Michael Ray
Long before local commercial banks abandoned the Barbados-based Caribbean Integrated Financial Services Inc. (CARIFS), there were steady increases in various fees and charges. It was also envisaged that as soon as the VISA-MasterCard system was put in place, further increases would follow.
Barbadians are now faced with an unusual number of bank charges and fees that are causing inconvenience of significant proportions. But the most unkindest cut of all is the imposition of a minimum withdrawal amount .
The earliest critics comprising of leading businessmen, trade union leaders and ordinary account-holders have been recently joined by the Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
Minister Kerrie Symmonds described the increased charges as an assault, specifically saying “This is an assault on both convenience to low-income people and an assault on the necessities of life for low-income people.”
What appears to be activity akin to a band of predatory raiders must be put to an end. The gravity of this situation demands the powers-that-be with the assistance of the lawful regulator to denounce such seemingly arbitrary and unilateral behaviour. The Central Bank of Barbados has a variety of functions and responsibilities.
One of these functions under the heading “Banking Supervision” is self-explanatory, and deals with the regulation and oversight of commercial banks. Another function involves Promotion of Financial Stability, which is conducive to the orderly and sustained economic development of Barbados.
It is to be recalled that on Friday, 21st February 2020, the Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados had his say about the fees commercial banks were charging customers. There has been an extended effluxion of time since the Governor spoke and there has been no redress
We have heard Minister Symmonds, it is nigh time to hear other members of Cabinet speaking on this matter and hopefully the onslaught brought to bear on customers’ accounts will be halted once and for all.
Furthermore, government is the only entity that can stop the banks in their tracks by legislation or the proclamation of a cease and desist. The only thing now left to be done is for the Cabinet of Barbados to cut loose the noose from the necks of the people.