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Nat’l Bank would be virtually useless on VG — Wheatley

By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff

Sister Islands Programme Coordinator Vincent Wheatley believes the limited banking options offered by the National Bank of the Virgin Islands (NBVI), would make it unsuitable for some sections of the Virgin Gorda community.

Wheatley’s remarks follow government’s announcement that talks are underway to open an NBVI branch on the island.

Those discussions began as a result of Scotiabank’s impending closure of its Virgin Gorda branch on September 1.

Besides plans to keep an automated teller machine (ATM) on the island, Scotiabank will relocate all business operations to its Road Town branch on Tortola.

As for the concept of opening an NBVI branch on the sister island, Wheatley said: “It is not a bad idea. But, for the business community, it is useless. It does not serve Virgin Gorda’s purpose.”

He said the bank’s lack of international features such as an ATM would make it difficult for Virgin Gorda residents to do business.

“National Bank is not a normal bank. It just has a chequing and savings account and that’s it. It is not a business bank and Virgin Gorda needs an international bank to function properly,” he insisted.

From another perspective, outspoken Virgin Gorda resident Shereen Flax-Charles saw the move to open a Virgin Gorda branch of NBVI as a step in the right direction.

“I think it (NBVI) will be helpful. From what I understand, they might not have all of the services that we may require but I think if that can happen and happen quickly before Scotia departs, it would serve as some sort of comfort where persons can have somewhere to deposit their earnings and revenue,” she said.

“It would be a start because we have to start somewhere … If we don’t have a bank, it is putting us back,” she added.

Flax-Charles then described Scotia’s impending closure ‘a serious matter’.

“There are so many things that are going to be affected that I think some people may not have thought about.”

Virgin Gorda residents might now require a full day to go to Tortola to conduct business and there might be security risks for residents who may now have to travel between islands with ‘more cash’.

Meetings

One stakeholder meeting already has been held in relation to the sister island’s banking woes and another is being planned for 5:30pm Thursday at the Catholic Centre on Virgin Gorda.

Flax-Charles said residents are hoping government authorities show up and address the growing concerns as it relates to banking.

She is also inviting residents to brainstorm solutions to their present dilemma.

Background

Back in 2014, the Jamaica Observer reported that in a bid to cut costs, Scotiabank had pre-announced plans to shut or shrink 120 of its branches mainly in the Caribbean region.

A regional executive of Scotia had said, in some of the Caribbean countries, the bank is ‘over-branched’.

“We have to size it to the economic realities of these economies,” the Scotia executive said.

VG might get Nat’l Bank branch | Scotia leaves sister island

Copyright 2018 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

24 Comments

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  1. Oh? says:

    But I thought we the locals were powerful and didn’t need anybody? Let’s march and start our own bank, no? This is only the beginning, keep up the attitudes.

  2. BVIYoungman says:

    As Ms Flax-Charles said, it IS a step into the RIGHT direction.

    Having a less functional bank is way better than having no bank at all! And as a young developing business man, (along with so many others) We Need some kind of banking system on Virgin Gorda.

    so I say Good Step!

    • How? says:

      Are the checking and savings accounts for personal use only or do they also offer business accounts? Can’t run your business revenues through your personal account – or should I say shouldn’t?

  3. Liddy says:

    At least you guys in VG would be able to save some money. National bank is a savings institution. Putting all jokes aside, if National Bank decides to have a presence in any outer island, it will definitely be necessary to add more services. It is important that people have access to their funds when the need arises via an ATM and company checking accounts will be vital, so all they need to do is step up their game in this 21st century.

  4. Concerned VG Resident says:

    All these political parties have dropped the ball. ALL! NO ONE is looking out for us! NO ONE! If they were we would not be in this predicament! This situation did not “just happen”. we heard the now proven to be true rumors months ago! Why wasn’t something done then? Why didn’t they come to us and talk about what was at stake for us? Now you giving us 2 months?? What happened to the town hall meetings then? In a few months they will be having meetings and rallies left and right and meetings in every district! Where was the OPPOSITION? Isn’t it their role to keep the government in check?…Making sure they doing what needs to be done?..The voice of the people? Come on now! Now BOTH sides and some brown nosers trying to use this issue for political mileage… Don’t Be fooled people! Don’t be fooled. The truth will come out!

    • Foolishness says:

      What truth? What can they do? The fact of the matter is majority of the international companies operating here realize the attitude towards them and have decided to keep skeleton/satellite offices here to do the bare minimum and relocate their value offerings elsewhere. Result? We ALL suffer, from employment to level of service, then we blame the Government. If the Government got involved and tried to encourage the bank to remain by offering incentives, we would say “We are selling out to foreign entities, we don’t need them, we have our own bank!”..But yet here we are, blaming Government as usual. When will we realize that we are the damn problem around here? The sad part is that this is just the beginning. I hope we are ready to put on our smiles and serve food/drinks and accept the minimum wage because that will soon be our only option if we keep up the ignorance.

      • Still concerned! says:

        The truth I am referring to is simple. THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT THE SISTER ISLANDS! People (politicians) showing up acting like this is a fire that just blaze up when they KNEW the date and time the fire was going to blaze! No one is blaming them for the bank closing..the bank is a business! But we are the clients/customers..and the we have a right to be informed and treated better than that! The government cannot stop the bank from closing but we could have been informed and discussed options long time..instead now we trying to find a seamless transition come August 31st! less than 2 months! IF YOU have any option that would work for us then make it!!

        • Not2Sure says:

          People in the sister islands like to talk about how no one cares about them. But the reality is that they are just very small places. VG has only 2,000 people. It is extremely hard for a business to justify the kind of investment that takes to operate on VG to service a population which is so small.

          That is not lack of love from Government or anyone else. That is just the economic reality. If you live on an outlying island with a small population, you need to accept that businesses and other social services will naturally gravitate towards the island where 95% of the population resides.

    • @Concerned says:

      WTF are you ranting about? Scotia is a PRIVATE BUSINESS and they have clearly said the move is one of changing their scope of business in the BVI. What can Government do about that? The proper thing to do would be for Scotia account holders in VG that would be affected, come together and arrange a meeting with the bank and try to come to some sort of compromise. Why does Government have to be involved in everything? Why is our first reaction to jump up cursing and ranting for everything? Surely there are enough intelligent account holders and business persons in VG that would be affected and that can organize a sit down with the bank reps and work something out that is mutually beneficial. Time to grow up man.

      • Still concerned! says:

        I am not sure IF you looking for a fight…I am not. I guess you don’t live on VG. My comments remain as they were presented…you may as well take issue with BVINEWS.com and all the other online news sites because they are the ones posting the stories. This issue is not a new issue so why all of a sudden everyone wait until it is happening to appear to care! I agree that a meeting SHOULD have been held with the people of Virgin Gorda and the fact that the GOVERNMENT knew about it they should have insisted that this be done! Scotia bank leaving VG..ok we get that but are you telling me that the government had not duty to us to ensure that we at lest had INFORMATION, ANSWERS and OPTIONS? Be careful how you answer (if you do)..I say be careful because it sounds like you saying forget the government! Because IF you are saying that VG should NOT look to the government for intervention and do this on their own accord then you are saying that we have no rights and representation from a government that we elected! I say to you WE HAVE DONE THIS AFTER IRMA…and have been chastised publicly for this..when all we were doing was trying to survive! WE HAVE DONE THIS FOR YEARS. And you over in Tortola with FIVE(5) banks comfortable when we have a myriad of issues that are stacked like dominoes ready to fall

  5. Tired!!! says:

    Vincent YOU are a — IDEA for Virgin Gorda…YOU will be —— as well. What is YOUR suggestion?
    What you bringing to the table? NOTHING! You —- have one original idea in your head!! We see you…another version of B—-… Same BS..if not worse. YOU too KNEW from long time what was going down with the bank… Sister Island coordinator, right? What did you coordinate? N—-! Not even a discussion in a public forum! — DO NOT represent us…so please don’t try to P—— that you do. We see right through you! We know who really working for us behind the scenes and who fronting! We NEED A BANK!

    • Virgin Gorda says:

      I think you need reading and comprehension lessons.Did you really read and understand the article? My God.

      • @Virgin Gorda says:

        My God indeed! they are soo illiterate!

        where are the wanna-be English Teachers Today (bloggers who loooove to correct others). We need some reading and Comprehension classes here

  6. Time to step up says:

    The Finance industry is all using the Bank of St Lucia, crazy when BVI is supposed to be a financial centre, the National Bank needs to step it up and become more than a mechanism for soft loans to locals.

  7. Hmm says:

    The regulator of the bank is a government entity. FSC. Scotia has decided to leave and Virgin Gordians are finding other solutions. We have not waited on government to figure it out. We are determined to find a solution that works for the majority of the people and make it happen

    • Albion says:

      If you are waiting for the FSC to do anything (other than try to fine trust companies), then you will be waiting a very long time. They have no real interest in fulfilling their mandate to protect the public. Just ask the hundreds of people who are being obstructed by their insurers. When has the FSC ever levied a fine against an insurance company or a bank for failure to discharge their duties to the public under the Regulatory Code? Never. Not even once.

  8. ONE BVI? says:

    We talking about ONE BVI and Unity etc. There was a march…a protest against a decision that the UK… made that affected the BVI. All sort of slogans…”We at war”…”divorce the UK”..” we want Independence”..all manner of things! Politician supported that and made daring comments…against the UK!…but nobody to stand up for we on VG? How come our “sisters and brothers” across the pond haven’t marched to Scotia in protest? How come ya’ll haven’t shown solidarity and “ONE BVI-ness” by telling scotia you will ALL move to another bank if they leave VG without banking services? Oh wait..I just remember..it doesn’t really affect ANYBODY else now does it? So why care right? Why stand up for/with us right? We understand now…5 banks on Tola…you have options we have NONE! #VGLIVESMATTERTOO

  9. Retired says:

    The time has come for the residents of Virgin Gorda to meet, agree and extend an enticing invitation to Banco Popular de Puerto Rico to open a branch on VG. This invitation should recommend a suitable office/business premise at a reasonable rent.

    It’s true that there are 5 commercial banks on Tortola but Banco Pop is by far the most customer friendly. Additionally their branches on the other Caribbean islands allow easy ATM access to all your accounts. Of course it helps to speak/read/understand some Spanish but that’s no longer much of problem these days.

  10. TELL ME says:

    The news that was circulating for weeks has now come to a reality, right. Many customers both comercial and private asked numerous bank representatives if they were closing and their responses were NO. So tell me who have failed us, who have failed us? The Government and the Bank of course. They knew long in advance just as the LDB, Biras, YCSS and FCB cases and has failed to demonstrate true transparency. I welcome National Bank because it is better to have something than nothing at all. We cannot afford to go back to stone age. We are bigger and better than that. My advice to National is to capitalize on those bankers especially those that specoalize in areas that can bring added services to the firm. Our local bank should be the leading bank and be the one to call that shots also. We must rise, Rise, RISE. #proud#vigin#gordian.

  11. two cents says:

    As the Territories own bank, I think they should have already established a branch in Virgin Gorda. It may not have all the features of an International bank, but if they are the only bank of VG they could have extended services hours and may be open half day on Saturdays to meet the needs of the VG community.

  12. gwen says:

    you need to vote your representative out of office. what has he done for the people since being in office? Pop Stevens would be an excellent representative. Virgin Gorda should have its own bank.

  13. CW says:

    With comments like these showcasing so much illiterate stupidity, no wonder banks are leaving. Keep it up, you’ll revert to the 1960’s and have electricity for about 5 hours a day soon. WAKE UP BVI. NOBODY IS GOING TO DONYOUR WORK FOR YOU. YOUR WORK IS MORE THAN B*TCHING ONLINE. IF YOU WANT A BETTER COMMUNITY THEN ACT LIKE IT AND WORK FOR IT.

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