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Things fall apart

Harry Russell

Things fall apart

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WILD COOT, do you think that it is the minister’s job to call on the banks to do something about their outrageous fees? Is that not the job of the Central Bank? And if the Central Bank spoke to them about it, (not saying that it did), but just “supposing” that the Central Bank spoke to them about it, has the Central Bank, like Bro. Lion, lost its teeth, sorry, fangs?
One of the more positive things said by our minister is that he will speak to the banks. And Wild Coot, you should heartily commend the minister – after all, you have been pelting undeserved licks at him all the time. Now is the time you should beg him “parding”.
You realize that the banks cannot get their loans readily repaid. If the loans are in arrears, the interest has to be suspended, and the profit margin suffers. Therefore dividends will suffer and the head office abroad will be in the manager’s tail to account to the foreign shareholders who, like Oliver Twist, always ask for more.
Wild Coot, I recently met a banker, and put the question to him: “Don’t you feel that the bankers have an obligation to the customers who provide the working capital to the banks so that they can make profit?”
His reply: “A bank is in business to maximize profit just like any other business, not to play godfather or tiddlywinks to any savers.”
What of corporate responsibility?
Oh, why did we, like Esau, sell our birthright for a mess of pottage to the Trinidadians, who, like Jacob, are now deceiving his father Isaac. The birthright morphed into an almost takeover of the Barbados economy, so that soon we shall be hewers of wood and drawers of water. (A 98 per cent intelligent people, so they say).
Wild Coot, read what Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” Sounds familiar? Little did he know that at some time the bank would serve as a catalyst in resisting the charges of the foreign banks! If a foreign owned bank’s charge to send a telegraphic transfer to a bank in Guyana is BDS$135, and the locally owned bank’s charge is BDS$50, where would customers go when they are sending money to Guyana?
The banker says that when you are looking after “obligations to the society”, that is when you get into trouble, just like the former Development Bank. Not true!
The Development Bank was not designed to maximize profit. We would dearly wish that we had one now instead of having to construct a convoluted system in order to facilitate Green Energy to effect savings. A Development Bank would assist small businesses, hotels, fishermen and a host of restaurants and private sector institutions as well as play banker to any alternate energy scheme.
But wild Coot, I feel that the minister should indicate to the banks that he will instruct the Central Bank to design a menu of charges and no charges for some of the non-existent services and advise the public of them so that the banks cannot “juck” people in the eye.
“Lady, you joking! What? Do you really know who bankers are? Can you fathom the depth of their mentality? Do you understand the scope of their training? I am one of the brethren. I have seen the “promised land”. Promotion is the star in the East. Do you know who up to 2007 put the whole world in a tailspin that has not slowed even now? The banker! Good luck, Mr Minister.”
“Like in the case of Divies and Lazarus there is a great gulf fixed between what the private sector is proposing and the Green Energy strategy proposed by the Government. One is meant to immediately put us on the life-saving drip while the other is long-term chemotherapy.”
Wild Coot, do not disappoint me now. You had the guts to be one of the first bankers to support indigenous banks. Do not go silent now.
“No, lady. But please be careful with low interest loans for short-term periods!”
• Harry Russell is a banker. Email [email protected]