The provision of reliable financial services for consumers by the banking sector, will come under the microscope this coming Monday, March 15, when Barbados joins the rest of the world in celebrating World Consumer Rights Day.

Under the theme: Our Money, Our Rights: How the Global Consumer Movement is Fighting for Fair Financial Services, Director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Terry Bascombe, described it as "very interesting, and ??timely" in light of the charges some consumers were forced to pay for some transactions.

He intimated that at a meeting of Consumers International in Jamaica during the mid 1990’s, apart from the host country, Barbados and Trinidad also expressed concerns about some aspects of the financial services sector’s operations.????

"The inability to understand financial contracts, ambiguous information contained in financial contracts; high transaction costs attached to writing cheques or late credit card payments, and the fees attached to these transactions, posed problems for consumers worldwide.

"We have our concerns here because late fees can range in the case of some banks, as high as $60 and I believe that they are too high," the Director stated.

Given this situation, Mr. Bascombe alluded to a joint Consumers International/ Inter-American Development Bank funded project to promote consumer protection in the region.

The Director of Commerce explained: "While consumer protection is a broad theme, they will be specifically looking at problems in the banking industry from an advocacy perspective."

Mr. Bascombe noted that Consumers International would empower consumers in areas of building personal savings and improving their credit rating.

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