Saturday, Nov 17, 2018
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Banks agree to lower fees

Foulkes: You are not married to a particular bank, and if you are, get a divorce
Dion Foulkes.

In response to public outcry regarding the fees commercial banks charge their customers, the six companies that are a part of the Clearing Banks Association (CBA) have all agreed to reduce the administrative fees of various services they offer, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes, who is in charge of consumer affairs, announced yesterday.

Foulkes said the CBA and The Central Bank of The Bahamas have also committed to listing the main bank fees regularly in the daily newspapers.

“Just like the gas stations do when you open the business sections of the dailies and you see the various prices per gallon of gas, we intend to do the same thing with the clearing banks, so that consumers can know exactly which bank is charging which fees, so they can make decisions as to which bank to do business with,” Foulkes said outside Cabinet on Tuesday.

“We are very pleased that the Central Bank has embarked upon a literacy program called “Get Money Smart Bahamas”, and we encourage persons to go to the Central Bank’s website to take a look at that program. Some banks have already lowered their fees.”

In recent months Bahamians have become incensed over the amount of fees they are charged to cash checks and deposit money in their bank accounts.

A survey conducted by the CBA and the Central Bank on commercial bank fees and customer satisfaction released in April indicated that 49 percent of respondents opined that bank fees are too high, while another 29 percent felt that fees were somewhat high.

The decrease in fees also follows a protest late last year by the group Citizens Against Bank Exploitation, which argued that bank practices are “predatory”, and that banks seem to have free reign to impose fees at will.

“I spoke to all six of the clearing banks yesterday along with the new chairperson, who is from Fidelity Bank. Each bank has addressed that specific issue with respect to cashing checks. I would encourage consumers, and that’s practically most Bahamians who deal with commercial banks, to go in and talk to your banks and make comparisons and make a judgment call as to which banks you wish to bank at,” Foulkes said.

“Consumer affairs comes under my ministry ,and all consumer issues come to my ministry to try to get a resolution. But at the end of the day the consumer has to be smart and the consumer has to examine each bank. Each bank has different fees and different schedules for their services. I encourage people, you are not married to a particular bank, and if you are, get a divorce. Go to the bank that offers you the best possible arrangement.”

Foulkes said there is an impetus for CBA members to improve bank fees because of a continued downward trend in lending.

“The big thing was trying to address the lack of business in the lending part of the banking industry and how they can make up in terms of the loss of revenue from the lending,” he said.

“That was the main reason.”

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