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Columns : Letters to The Editor Last Updated: Jun 19, 2020 - 2:41:36 PM

Pamela Burnside: Monetary Cooperation
By Pamela Burnside
Jun 19, 2020 - 2:25:30 PM

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Dear Editor,


As we fast approach July 1st  and the new ‘re-opening’ phase in The Bahamas due to COVID-19, I urge the government, their financial services partners, as well as the Central Bank, commercial banks and other stakeholders to get together right away to work out the glaring kinks related to implementing a burgeoning cashless environment for this country.

Since last year notices have been circulating about the closures of commercial banks, especially on the Family Islands, along with the imposition of new banking rules with little concern for the considerable inconveniences being afforded to their customers. These foreign banks continue to conduct their business with impunity and with very little push back from the government, whilst the people suffer.

The same is holding true for monetary policies connected to the COVID-19 re-opening, and I would like to know why there have not been collaborative discussions taking place between banking institutions and entities with the necessary customer input, to make sure that these policies are not disenfranchising a portion of the population as well as inconveniencing many more!

We are fully aware that COVID-19 is causing havoc all around the world and that the handling of cash is a definite hazard but please – pause for a moment before diving straight in to adopt protocols that might be fine for persons coming from the north across the water or for the big mega resorts in our archipelago – but what about the needs of the ordinary Bahamian – not only in Nassau but also in the Family Islands?

LPIA has just issued a notice that they will no longer be accepting cash at the airport parking lot. So what happens to people who do not even have a bank account, more less a debit and credit card? How are they going to park at the national airport since they are not ‘monetarily equipped’?  Is this not exclusive and prejudicial?

Instead of just imposing a cashless society across the board, has anyone investigated alternate ways of sanitizing the physical money – are there money sanitizing machines being manufactured somewhere – can an infrared light or a form of radiation maybe zap the virus on money?

I recently wrote a letter to the press to complain about the commercial banks’ lack of customer service, their ‘don’t care’ attitude to their customers, and their exorbitant fees – and it is getting progressively worse! Have you tried to open a banking account, or tried to get a credit or debit card, or applied for online banking services lately? It is an unbelievably tedious, time consuming, and completely frustrating endeavour which most people just give up on!

Why is this allowed to happen? Why aren’t these services regulated to ensure that customers’ needs are met in a quick, efficient and seamless manner? The customer has no recourse, and this is not right!

Government banking entities and their affiliates, banking institutions AND customer and civil society representative should be sitting around the table (virtually of course!) to properly prepare the country and its people for the proposed new monetary way forward, and ensure that they find ways and means to accommodate EVERYONE in their deliberations before imposing exclusivity and hardships!

Stay safe everyone!

Yours sincerely,

Pam Burnside

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of TheBahamasWeekly.com

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