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Banks should ‘pull weight’, lower fees

Article taken from the Barbados Today – September 21, 2021

Bankers have been asked to back off a rampant rise in banking fees as the minister for commerce urged them on Sunday to “pull their weight” and join the rest of the business community in seeking to slash prices.

But Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Kerrie Symmonds has also suggested that bank fees are only one aspect of a larger problem of how Barbadians do business.

He told a CBC Television programme that while Government has been working on several areas of concern related to the cost of doing business, the banking community has not been seen doing its utmost to help in that regard.

Symmonds said on The People’s Business current affairs discussion: “I myself have had to speak this week about challenges that we see with respect to the banking community, who must be players equally, but the reality is, there are sometimes points in life when you have to speak truth to partners who are not pulling weight in a way that you would like them to pull weight.

“The reality is that I am not satisfied that the banking community in Barbados is doing its best to try to offset some of these costs and additional percentages added onto credit card transactions are finding a knock on effect right through the system and it is hitting the consumer hard because at every stage of a process, that then trickles on. It is something that we have to speak candidly to and try to find a way of mitigating.”

But Symmonds suggested that the unbalanced way the banking community has been dealing with its commercial clients over the last few months is just one of several issues in the business community. According to him, a laidback and often uncooperative business culture continues to affect growth.

“It is a larger issue, and sometimes it comes down to the business culture in this country, of which the private sector is very guilty as well,” said Symmonds. “We tend not to keep our foot on the accelerator and be as competitive as other players do in the world.

“When you see a few people in the bank on a Friday in a line a mile long, it is a frustration to small business people all across Barbados.

“It is a frustration Kerrie to the agriculture sector who are on a Symmonds Friday trying to put themselves in a position in a large measure to do vending of their products on a Saturday and so on.

“The commercial connection to the agriculture sector must be facilitated by that private entity called the banking community… in some ways this country has to get its business culture correct.” (SB)

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