St Lucian PM urges bank to re-examine policy to halt all cash transactions

Prime Minister Phillip J Pierre says he will seek regional support against moves by banks operating in the Caribbean to establish cashless transactions.

“I have been very cautious in what I say about banks. Very cautious …because I have the responsibility as minister of finance,” Pierre said, telling legislators that he read recently where a bank operating in St Lucia, which he did not name, had indicated to customers its intention to move towards having cashless transactions.

Pierre asked “how do you tell an elderly person from rural St Lucia that they cannot have cash transactions in a bank when they put their money in there?”

“I am going to bring that up with the ministers of finance in the region because we can’t allow (that)…and I am not saying anything that is anti-banking”.

Pierre said that in England a few months ago, banks were forced to have an automated teller machine for every 3,000 residents.

“How can you tell people when they put their money in the banks that they can’t take it out, they must have a card to take it out?” Pierre asked, saying “we should not allow that to happen, because there are a number of people who do not have cards, will not have cards and cannot have cards.”

Pierre said he wanted to urge the un-named bank to re-examine that policy.

He said another “disturbing” situation is banks demanding from vendors at tourist arcades and taxi drivers proof regarding their source of income when they come to change United States currency.

“Sometimes, vendors, taxi drivers go to the banks with 200, 300, 400 US dollars and they want a source of funds. Do you know that doesn’t happen in the banks in the US? And the argument against that is money laundering,”

“A vendor in the arcade will launder 200 US dollars. So I want to urge the banks to look at that policy that saying they are going to stop all cash transactions. I think they should re-look at that policy. I think its wrong for the elderly people, I think it is wrong for the people who don’t have the ability to use plastic in the system,” he added.

(Jamaica Gleaner)

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