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If banks can’t do business our way 'pack up & leave’- Vernon Vanterpool

If banks can’t do business our way 'pack up & leave’- Vernon Vanterpool

With calls by residents to reform the banking system in the [British] Virgin Islands (VI), residents of Virgin Gorda have indicated that the situation needs to be drastically improved, given the economic activity on the island.

Candidates contesting for the Ninth District seat in the upcoming elections were asked about their plans to tackle the situation during the ‘Great Debate’ on Virgin Gorda on April 14, 2023.

Candidates contesting for the Ninth District seat in the upcoming elections were asked about their plans to tackle the banking situation during the ‘Great Debate’ on Virgin Gorda on April 14, 2023.

VIP Gov’t brought Banco Popular to VG- Hon Vincent O. Wheatley

Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Candidate Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) explained that when he first got into office there was no banking on Virgin Gorda and he was part of negotiations to introduce Banco Popular into the community.

He said he has since spoken to the bank about the possibility of increasing the number of working days, adding that those discussions are still ongoing.

“When we repaired the Flax and Vanterpool Buildings one of the things I said we needed to have was the National Bank here on Virgin Gorda, an ATM and also a bank presence. That is still being discussed. I cannot say exactly when this will happen… The banks are private institutions, we can’t necessarily force them but we need to get around a table with these banks and explain and express the importance of banking to the business community.

“Up to now still, we can’t do a wire from Virgin Gorda. If you want to do a wire with Banco Popular you have to go to Tortola…I think in this day and age that’s an insult to the development of Virgin Gorda,” Hon Wheatley said.

He noted that there is also a need to educate the public on going cashless, as he posited that it is the way to go in such a remote community where the ATMs malfunction frequently and services are limited.

‘If you can’t do business our way…pack up & leave’- Vernon Vanterpool

Independent Candidate Vernon Vanterpool said he would negotiate with the institutions; however, if they are not in agreement with government’s terms then their licences should not be renewed.

“We as a people, we like to tow the line. These banks, when they come here, we need to have legislation to control them, not them control us. If you can’t do business our way, you need to pack up and leave,” he said.

BVI Banking Association needs to get involved- Hon Flax-Charles

Meanwhile, Progressive Virgin Islands Movement (PVIM) Candidate Shereen D. Flax- Charles (AL) shared her belief that the BVI Banking Association needs to be engaged regarding these issues.

“That is one of the things that we will be focusing on…There are international guidelines that govern banks, but we must also remember to include the local people in anything that we do. The ATMs go down on a regular, there is a company here on Virgin Gorda that is willing to get the training,” she said, noting that she has reached out to the banks in this regard.

“The attitude of some of the banks is that it’s not a full- time job,” Hon Flax- Charles said as she made the call for a move towards more online banking and credit card machines.

MoU should be put in place- Coy W. Levons

National Democratic Party (NDP) Candidate Coy W. Levons proposed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) should be put in place.

“I think this is a issue of scalability. You have to understand it from the bank perspective. You have a population of about 6000 people but you have various banking institutions that people are a part of… we need to look at a strategy that will work. We need to work the problem backward…we need to find out from the bank what is the issue,” he said.

While he agreed with the proposed move to go cashless, he noted that government must also commit to this, since there is the need to support both cash and card systems.

Banco Popular is the lone banking facility on Virgin Gorda and was brought to the sister island by the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) Administration in 2019.

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