SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - "It's time for the Government to have its own bank," which, according to Leader of the United Peoples Party, MP (Ed Member of Parliament) Rolando Brison, will alleviate many challenges experienced by persons within the community when they try to open new accounts or keep the existing bank accounts.
MP Brison has expressed concern about complaints from various recipients of social aid, pension and other government aid that their bank accounts would be closed due to not having "a valid form of income".
"I've seen some of these notices coming from the bank to (prospective) clients, and I am in total disbelief. Banks are not even wishing to honour the bank accounts of social aid recipients and some pensioners because they claim that the account holder cannot sufficiently prove their source of income. This is a serious social concern in our country," explained MP Brison.
"Here we have the Minister of VSA Omar Ottley and his Ministry working tirelessly to provide social aid to our people in these difficult times, and now the banks appear not to want to honour their accounts. So let's think: If the banks are abolishing checks and don't want these people to have bank accounts, how is the Government supposed to provide this much-needed aid?" stated Brison.
Even the MP received complaints from clients undergoing treatment at institutions like Turning Point, Key to Freedom and Mental Health Foundation, who were told they would soon no longer have bank accounts. These clients are often unfit for work during their treatment and rely on social aid to survive.
The MP also believes it's time for the Government to explore an alternate solution for the banking of its citizens. "The Government or a government entity should apply for a banking license to service especially those with social needs. We can no longer allow our most vulnerable citizens to be at the mercy of the commercial banking sector. I believe the Government should immediately explore having even at least a rudimentary bank that caters to those with social needs. There should be no worries of competition since the commercial banking sector seems to have no interest in servicing these clients," stated Brison.
The MP, who drafted the consumer banking protection law and the Motion for it to be vetted by the Central Bank, is now also renewed his call for at least the "Right to a Basic Bank Account" aspect of the law to be sent to Parliament as soon as possible.