Symonette urges banks to be reasonable when dealing with non-resident clients
Questioning the legality of certain banking practices, Minister of Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration Brent Symonette called on commercial banks to be more sensitive and sensible when dealing with non-Bahamian and non-resident clients.
Symonette was seconding the Multinational Entities Reporting Bill, 2018 in the House of Assembly yesterday when he made the plea to commercial banks.
“Please when persons’ work permits expire, this is a bugaboo I have so I’ll use this opportunity while I’m on my feet. It appears that some banks, when persons’ work permits expire, are refusing to deal with them as clients,” Symonette said.
“I don’t see anything in the law that allows them to shut down a person from doing business just because his work permit or residency permit has expired.
“Please be more sympathetic, be more sensitive, sensible. I understand that’s happening in instances like driver’s licenses and others being expired. A person hasn’t died because his work permit is not there,” he said.
The Department of Immigration has been plagued with a backlog of work permit applications under successive governments.
Last month Symonette said the department is seeking to help clear the backlog of work permits by creating an online portal, where applicants can log their status and receive help with the process. Though he admitted at the time that much of the blame for the backlog falls on the department, Symonette said in many cases clients contribute to the backlog by failing to provide requisite information in a timely manner.
“We all know that the immigration department does as best of a job as it can, but it can do better, so maybe we don’t renew your permit on the day it expires, but give us some time to renew permits,” Symonette said in Parliament.
“And similarly, the schools that are not allowing persons to enter and get an education simply because their parents’ work permits are not in place, please stop that too. We need to educate the young children in this country irrespective of where their parents came from.”
Work permit fees are expected to double in the new budget year, which begins July 1.