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CMC – The Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) says it has established a Working Group on Commercial Bank Fees and Charges in light of the recent decisions by some commercial banks operating in the sub-region increasing its fees for services to customers.
The increase has led to a run by customers on some of the banks and the ECCU said that the establishment of the Working Group is one of the recommendations of the Monetary Council of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) “for addressing the increases in fees and charges for products and services offered by the commercial banks which operate in the ECCU”.
The ECCU groups the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, St. Kitts-Nevis, Montserrat and Anguilla.
“The Working Group will conduct a comprehensive analysis and assessment of the suitability of fees levied by the commercial banks. The assessment will include a review of the fees and charges in other CARICOM member countries and consultations with key stakeholders, including the ECCU Bankers Association,” the ECCU said in a statement.
It said the eight-member Working Group is chaired by St. Lucian Shelton Daniel and includes representatives from civil society, the OECS Business Council, the legal fraternity and the financial sector. Lennox Andrews of Grenada is the Vice Chair.
The Working Group is expected to present a preliminary report on its work to the ECCB Monetary Council at the Council meeting in October.
In May, the St. Kitts-based ECCB expressed concern at the increase in commercial banks’ fees and charges across the ECCU and the effects on depositors.
But the ECCB, which serves as a Central Bank for countries of the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), said that it did not have the powers to regulate commercial banks’ fees and charges.
“As a consequence, individual banks determine their fees and charges,” the ECCB said in the statement, noting that Article 34 of the ECCB Agreement permits it to regulate the minimum interest rate paid on savings deposits.
The statement came as account holders at RBTT Bank in St. Vincent and the Grenadines turned out in large numbers to withdraw their savings following the announcement by the Trinidad-based bank of increased fees for services.
RBTT said that effective May 23, account holders here would pay a monthly service fee of EC$25 (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) on savings account. Senior citizens will pay EC$12.50 a month and person under the age of 17 will not be charged.
The bank has also instituted a similar fee for its customers in St. Lucia.