The Executive Council and the Saba Business Association (SBA) are again seeking attention for the shortcomings in the commercial banking facilities for Saba residents and businesses. The Executive Council on Monday, February 15 sent a letter to Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra, accompanied by the SBA letter.
The SBA earlier this month sent a letter to the Executive Council to express concerns about the “deteriorating” banking services on Saba. The SBA pointed out that having only one bank on the island, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), has created poor service and unnecessarily high banking costs for Saba businesses.
According to the SBA, the RBC Bank has restricted regular banking services via the tellers, forcing the business sector to resort to online banking which involves high fees. Some of the services that are no longer available through the tellers at the RBC bank include cash deposits and making a wire transfer. Depositing cash at the ATM machine often presents a problem with the machine at times being out of order for weeks.
The closure of the Windward Islands Bank (WIB) branch on Saba and the fact that no deposits can be made at the WIB ATM means that WIB customers have to travel to St. Maarten to do their banking. The latter poses a problem during the current pandemic with the travel restrictions and mandatory quarantining.
SBA reiterated that a second, on-island banking service is needed. “This bank needs to be able to handle all banking services and utilize modern features such as low-cost methods to make wire transfers, to provide merchant services and online banking services at affordable rates.”
In the letter to Minister Hoekstra, the Executive Council pointed out that it was unable to answer SBAs questions, and therefore appealed to the Minister to assist. Since the closure of the WIB branch on Saba a few years ago, the local government has been seeking attention for the precarious banking facilities. “The SBA letter gives a clear overview of the current shortcomings. Because the ATM of the RBC is regularly out of service for prolonged periods, we decided to keep the WIB ATM open at our expense.” The costs to keep the WIB ATM open are an additional budgetary burden for Saba.
A copy of the SBA letter has been sent to State Secretary of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops, the Dutch Central Bank and the Second Chamber.