A senior government official is appealing to the banking sector to desist from pricing financial services out of the reach of average Barbadians, by applying high interest rates to transactions.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Division of Trade, Industry and Commerce, Ernesta Drakes, made this call recently, while addressing the Department of Commerce’s regional two-day seminar entitled: Banking, Credit, Financial Services and Consumer Protection in the Caribbean.?? It was held at the Amaryllis Beach Resort, Hastings, Christ Church.
Even though research had shown that access to credit would assist low-income families in making productive investments and to cope with the negative economic shocks, she lamented that within the Caribbean context, access to financial services were priced out of their reach.
In addition to this, Ms. Drakes also expressed concern about the financial sector’s lack of confidence in small and newly established firms which, according to her, were regarded as "high risk," and were forced to pay exorbitant interest rates to match this presumption.
??"We urge lending institutions to see the provision of financial services as a means and a solution to foster sustainable economic development," she noted.
The Acting Permanent Secretary conceded that although legislative regulation was in place to address unfair practices, there were some aspects of it that needed changing. "Some legislation we recognise is somewhat dated and does not appropriately address the growing concerns of consumers in this complex and sophisticated financial environment," Ms. Drakes observed.
The senior official admitted that not many people were aware of the challenges which confronted the business consumer and added that when one spoke about consumerism, it was in the context of individuals and not the consumer.
"While there are corporations that are quite able to settle matters within the court system, there are some small operators who simply cannot seek redress within the law courts, as they are financially constrained," Ms. Drakes opined. firstname.lastname@example.org