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Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh (on the balcony, right) and Bank of Guyana Governor Dr Gobind Ganga (left) unveiling the 50th anniversary plaque displayed on the building. (Photo: Stabroek News)

Guyana’s central bank wants uniform banking fees

Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh (on the balcony, right) and Bank of Guyana Governor Dr Gobind Ganga (left) unveiling the 50th anniversary plaque displayed on the building. (Photo: Stabroek News)

Guyanese commercial banks are protesting a proposal by the Bank of Guyana (BOG) for service fees to be the same across the board. Reports by the Starbroek newspaper indicate that the BOG has begun industry consultations on service fees, including a standard GUY$50 fee for automated teller machine (ATM) withdrawals of up to Guy$100,000 and a GUY$2,500 cap on late fees for loan repayments.

According to the news organisation, the banks have responded to say that fees in the country are a fraction of charges by other banks regionally, also noting that standardisation would militate against competition or the standard by which consumers choose between one bank and another.

The commercial banks in Guyana are Citizens Bank Inc, Demerara Bank Limited (DBL), Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (BTI), Republic Bank Limited (RBL), Bank of Nova Scotia, and Bank of Baroda.

Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley has indicated that her Government could bring legislation against bank fees.

In Jamaica the battle for regulated banking fees has been fought and apparently lost. A local lobby, spearheaded by St Catherine Southern Member of Parliament Fitz Jackson, was defeated after being presented in Parliament. Introduced in 2013, the resolution on banking fees was voted on in the House of Representatives in 2018 and deep-sixed after a vote along party lines.

Demerara Bank is one of many commercial banks operating in Guyana. (Photo: Stabroek)

In a recent Jamaica Observer commentary, Jackson said that, in 2020 banks made over $50 billion from depositors accounts.

He said Government was being reluctant to pass the Bill that was tabled because it was more interested “to secure and protect that risk-free earning of the bank at the expense of ordinary Jamaicans”.