THE BOTTOM – The Authoriteit Financiele Markten (AFM) has no influence on the closure of the Windward Islands Bank (WIB) branch on Saba. This according, to AFM Manager Supervision Account Egbert Gerritsen, who paid a working visit to Saba to clear up some discrepancies communicated by WIB to the public.
Gerritsen said WIB is neglecting its responsibility to properly inform their customers on the reason for the closure. “In the coming weeks we are going to put pressure on WIB where they acknowledge the consequences of its closure and guide their customers on how to deal with these consequences.”
There has been much panic on the island over WIB’s decision and its customers feel they should receive more reactions from WIB. While much is not being discussed in the open, Gerritsen said behind the scenes the AFM is putting pressure on the bank to assist its customers in making solid decisions.
Gerritsen said the AFM has been in discussion with the remaining bank, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) on how it intends to go about taking on new clients. According, to Gerritsen RBC already has a waiting list of 200 people trying to open a new account.
WIB’s closure will reduce the island to 1 ATM machine and this is of grave concern to the community. The island relies heavily on cash flow rather than “plastic money.” For those customers who choose to remain with WIB they do have the option for internet banking, however the concern is for those persons with little or no computer skills.
“I’m going back to the Netherlands with the feeling that it is big problem and something has to be done urgently,” remarked Gerritsen as he concluded Monday evening’s town hall meeting.