SABA–The Executive Council and Saba Business Association (SBA) are again seeking attention for the shortcomings in the commercial banking facilities for Saba residents and businesses.
The Executive Council sent a letter to Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra on Monday, February 15, accompanied by the SBA letter.
SBA sent a letter to the Executive Council earlier this month to express concerns about the “deteriorating” banking services in Saba. The SBA pointed out that having only one bank on the island, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), has created poor service and unnecessarily high banking cost for Saba businesses.
According to SBA, RBC has restricted regular banking services via the tellers, forcing the business sector to resort to online banking which involves high fees. Some of the services that are no longer available through the tellers at RBC include cash deposits and making wire transfers. Depositing cash at the automated teller machine (ATM) often presents a problem with the machine at times being out of order for weeks.
The closure of Saba’s Windward Islands Bank (WIB) branch and the fact that no deposits can be made at the ATM means that WIB customers have to travel to St. Maarten to do their banking. The latter poses a problem during the current pandemic with the travel restrictions and mandatory quarantining.
SBA reiterated that a second, on-island banking service is needed. “This bank needs to be able to handle all banking services and utilise modern features such as low-cost methods to make wire transfers, to provide merchant services and online banking services at affordable rates.”
In the letter to Hoekstra, the Executive Council pointed out that it was unable to answer SBA’s questions and, therefore, appealed to the minister to assist.
Since the closure of Saba’s WIB branch a few years ago, the local government has been seeking attention for the precarious banking facilities. “The SBA letter gives a clear overview of the current shortcomings. Because the ATM of the RBC is regularly out of service for prolonged periods, we decided to keep the WIB ATM open at our expense.” The cost to keep the WIB ATM open is an additional budgetary burden for Saba.
Copies of the SBA letter have been sent to State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops, the Dutch Central Bank and the Dutch Parliament’s Second Chamber.
Bron: Daily Herald