Independent Senator Ian Roach is calling on the Government to take urgent action to address the issue of high bank charges and interest rates in this country.
Roach made the call during his contribution to the Senate debate on a bill to approve the FATCA legislation in the Upper House. It was introduced for debate by Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert.
Roach said as the legislation is on its way to be enacted it was an opportune time for Trinidad and Tobago to focus on banks operating in this country. He said he was referring specifically to the charges and interest being imposed by the banks.
He said any ordinary citizen of this country would consider the banks “to be institutional bandits, financial extortionists and conscienceless, as they unilaterally impose any and all types of bank charges in addition to the already outrageous level of interest rates.”
Roach said the Government can and should once and for all deal with this systemic cancer of interest rates and bank charges by the introducing a bill to either fortify the Minister of Finance powers under the Central Bank Act, or intervene in such a way to give the minister new powers that can effectively reign in these runaway ravenous horses that are the banks.
Roach said such legislation was not expected to be contentious if tabled in Parliament.
He insisted the Government “must act with a sense of urgency, since too many people are complaining about the banks in Trinidad and Tobago.”
Roach said FATCA had been addressed “to protect the banks’ interest and the United States government’s interest, now Government must act to attend to the public outcry about the banks.”
Roach noted how quickly the Bankers’ Association got together to lobby passage of the FATCA bill. Saying he had “no problem with that,” Roach said he would “also like to see the banks act with such (similar) motivation by addressing the daily petition of the public against the exorbitant charges and rates.”