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‘Keep eye’ on banks

marciadottin, [email protected]

‘Keep eye’ on banks

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Three influential groups have urged Government and the Central Bank of Barbados to pay closer attention to the rates local banks are charging clients.
The Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP), the Men’s Educational Support Association (MESA) and the Barbados Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (BANGO) said yesterday Government and the Central Bank needed to ensure that financial institutions were not exploiting clients in the tough economic times.
The associations were reacting to FirstCaribbean International Bank’s announcement of increased charges for services including in-branch and over-the-counter withdrawals, automated banking machine (ABM) withdrawals at other banks, printing of ABM mini-statements, night depository, overdrafts, safekeeping and securities and early redemption of fixed deposits.
The bank also announced changes in the credit card fees, starting February 1.
“I am very concerned about these new charges,” BARP’s president, Ernest Batson, told the SUNDAY SUN. “Government should look into the matter to see whether there has been an abuse of banking power.
“If people can’t afford to spent money or they are prevented from spending for one reason or another, the circulation of money in the economy will be adversely affected and the economy could be crippled.
“It’s in the Government’s interest to see that this doesn’t happen.”
Batson argued that higher banking rates added to the problems caused by more expensive petrol and a round of food price increases triggered by a hike in the Value Added Tax (VAT).
“We are very concerned about retirees operating on fixed incomes and having to face these growing charges again and again,” he remarked.
“We are also worried about what appears to be discrimination by banks against people over 65, who have been complaining that they cannot qualify for a credit card or a mortgage, even though they may have better collateral than young applicants who succeed.”
Head of MESA, Ralph Boyce, called on the Central Bank to adopt “a more hands-on approach” to the issue of bank charges to ensure customers were not disadvantaged.
“The Central Bank, as a regulatory body, needs to pay closer attention to these things,” he said. “There have been complaints that some rates are unreasonable. This is a matter we in MESA also have to look at.”
BANGO secretary general, Roosevelt King, said: “This is something Government needs to urgently become involved in, otherwise these