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Open letter to ECCB governor
Published on July 17, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Honourable Sir K. Dwight Venner
Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB)
PO Box 89
St Kitts and Nevis
West Indies

Dear Sir Dwight:

Re: Objection to commercial bank withdrawal fees and monthly service charges in SVG

I would like to bring to your attention a matter of grave and urgent concern to the financial welfare of Vincentians. This matter requires your immediate intervention as Governor of the ECCB (the sub-regional regulator of commercial banks). The foreign-owned commercial banks which operate in St Vincent and the Grenadines have taken the much-storied exploitation of their customers to new and quite frankly unacceptable heights. I present this issue from a Vincentian standpoint but I feel sure that the problem is not unique to St Vincent and the Grenadines.

There has been public objection to the withdrawal fees and monthly service charges which have been recently imposed on the clients of Scotiabank, CIBC First Caribbean and RBTT. The problem is not simply that many people are not even aware that these fees exist and may lead to the surreptitious depletion of their accounts as it has to do with the fact that there appears to be no reasonable justification for such fees in the first place.

We see the imposition of the said fees and charges as acts of aggression against bank users and a hostile attempt by commercial banks to lower the effective interest rate on savings accounts through the backdoor after the Central Bank refused to accede to the requests of banking sector lobbyists for a reduction in the minimum interest rate payable on these accounts to below the current level of 3 percent. The commercial banks have in effect circumvented the authority of the ECCB and we do not expect you to tolerate this.

The banks in question have already profited from favourable government policies and generous concessions that were meant to put them in a position to pass on benefits to their customers and employees but which obviously did not achieve the desired objectives. The commercial banks have instead unnecessarily contributed to the creation of unemployment, adopted absurd credit policies and have in general badly neglected the developmental needs of this country. They behave as if they are a law unto themselves and are galloping along on a profit-seeking rampage that must be brought to a swift halt. We therefore call on the ECCB and the Monetary Council of the ECCU to take action to arrest the rapacious conduct of all the relevant banks and to have the pertinent fees and charges removed.

We would welcome a position paper by the ECCB on the non-loan strategies that are being employed by commercial banks in their quest for profits. We also respectfully request that this matter be put on the agenda of the upcoming meeting of the ECCU Monetary Council which is scheduled to take place in St Vincent and the Grenadines on July 25, 2014. We look forward to a satisfactory determination of this species of larceny.

Thank you for your attention and consideration.

R. T. Luke V. Browne
St Vincent and the Grenadines

Honourable Hubert Hughes, Chief Minister of Anguilla
Honourable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of Dominica
Dr the Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, Prime Minster of Grenada
Honourable Reuben T. Meade, Premier of Montserrat
The Right Honourable Dr Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis
The Honourable Dr Kenny D. Anthony, Prime Minister of St Lucia
Dr the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines
The Media
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Patrick Ferrari:

I will pitch in with R.T.L.V. Browne if he wants pitching in. We are all on the same side and if "he wants" sounds condescending or off-hand, it is not meant to.


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