Barbados Prime Minister blasts banks over unfair fees

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Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley criticised commercial banks for “watching” people’s money instead of putting it to work and as such, she warned that if banks were not prepared to make some changes, the government would be forced to do so through legislation.

“Therefore I have advised the governor of the central bank that if you don’t get it right that the government will legislate because it is not fair for the people and businesses of this nation,” she said as she made the disclosure on Wednesday. 

Prime minister Mottley voiced her concerns while she announced that her administration was now in the process of looking at how it could establish a new bank that would be responsible primarily for funding green projects in Barbados during her address to the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) business forum and luncheon.

Barbados has a long tradition of commercial banking, both in a formal sense in terms of international banking institutions and, in a more informal sense, by way of credit unions and provident societies. In addition to commercial banks, there are regional and local development institutions that are primarily geared towards long-term lending in some cases, and in others to the financing of risks that are sometimes more development-oriented than commercially attractive.

Last month, The top brass of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations pleaded with the government to stop commercial banks from “exploiting” residents through a range of bank fees, which they claim are now creating additional hardship for workers.

The union raised the matter at the level of the social partnership with the view of having serious discussions on how the issue of bank fees could be addressed.

General Secretary of CTUSAB Dennis de Peiza said that some banks were being “wicked” by putting a limit on the minimum amount individuals could withdraw from some types of accounts and added that people were being forced to use commercial banks and open certain types of accounts given that “in most places now the payroll is tied to a bank”.

The prime minister took jabs at the ridiculous fees being implemented. She witted, “The next thing we are going to hear is that the bank is going to charge you a fee depending on how skinny you are or how fat you are, or depending on how much pressure you put on the ATM or otherwise. It cannot be.”

Mottley also outlined several areas where change was needed in order for the private sector and government to work together to achieve economic prosperity for the country such as change of attitude and access to affordable capital.