Monday, July 09, 2012 – Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Honourable Dr Kenny D Anthony has challenged the banking sector to provide much needed services like Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) along the island`s east and west coasts.
Speaking at the opening of the CIBC First Caribbean – Rodney Bay Branch, on Sunday July 08th , 2012 Dr Anthony gave the assurance that his administration would support this initiative by considering favourable requests for concessions to expand services to all villages and communities.
This, he says is an important pillar in ensuring that there is equity in efforts to develop Saint Lucia. According to the Prime Minister “no community should be made to feel remote, neglected and abandoned.”
While Dr. Anthony acknowledged steps taken to decentralize the services of the bank by placing ATMs at Supermarkets and Credit Unions, he believes that more can be done, with the assistance of Government and partnership with established community organizations.
Lamenting the absence of important banking services on the east and west coasts, Dr. Anthony issued a challenge to CIBC-FCIB and the entire banking sector to consider partnerships with existing institutions to provide such services .
“I wish to challenge the banking sector to begin considering the expansion of banking services such as ATM machines into smaller but growing economic centres. For instance, after one heads south from Cul de Sac, whether along the East Coast or the West Coast, the next available banking services are an hour away. Yet, the communities of Anse la Raye and Dennery are both growing centres with the likelihood of expanded economic activities from eco-tourism tours, restaurants, festivals and small touristic properties. To these two communities, we can safely add the villages of Dennery and Micoud.”
The benefits, he says would go a long way in stirring up economic activity which would not only benefit the local community, but other citizens and tourists, given the strategic location of these communities, who serve as a passage between the North and South of Saint Lucia.
During his remarks, the Prime Minister also expressed concern about the cost of inter-bank transactions, which he believes negatively affects the competitiveness of the region in this sector.
However the role of the banking sector in the development of non-traditional sectors and rural/small communities was the highlight of the Prime Minister`s address.