Premier Andrew Fahie has lashed the territory’s banking sector, saying some need to do a better job at creating “stimulus” programmes to assist residents during these hard times.
Speaking in the House of Assembly on September 22, the Premier said the BVI public needs to demand better banking rates and initiatives that will help them to survive the current economic downturn.
“Banks make their businesses through [us] … And if we band together and tell the banks we need better rates, we need better initiatives, they must help us,” the Premier said.
He said he’s finding it very difficult to convince some locally-based banks to adjust their services to allow more people to do business and improve their lives.
“Whenever you challenge a bank, the first thing they tell you is that ‘a lot of people ain’t paying so we can’t do it’. And I ask ‘how they going to pay? Irma and Maria came, people ain’t catch themselves yet and here comes COVID-19’. So you have to come up with systems in the banks to adjust, ” the Premier said.
He continued: “Why you think some of these stimulus late? Some of them late because some of these very people in there (banks) — that you need to help — giving you 50, 60 reasons … Dem evil ting right there in dem office ain’t want to move to help the people! Not all of them, but they know themselves,” the Premier said.
Fahie told the House of Assembly that since COVID-19 started affecting the BVI, he has written to the banks twice to ask if they can’t adjust some systems to ease the financial burden on residents.
“Some of them have responded well. But some of them, their moratoriums are short and their systems don’t go past six months. But they have to go past six months now because it’s the need of the people. The government shouldn’t have to push the banks to come up with better rates to help the people,” Fahie argued.
The Premier, who was contributing to the debate on a motion to waive the government’s stamp duty on land sale, said the waiver is an example of adjusting to ‘meet the needs of the people’.
“Government needs revenue, but if the government needs revenue and the people can’t get help, what’s the sense you have it for?” Premier Fahie questioned.
Similarly, he urged banks to do their part to assist residents.
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