PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Following widespread criticism by legislators in recent weeks on bank fees and other charges, the Bankers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT) said while it welcomes discussions on the issue, they should be done in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

The bankers said that consideration must also be given to the negative perception and damaging effects the remarks can have on an industry which employs over 10,000 Trinidad and Tobago citizens, represents over 15 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and which provides services to close to one million citizens.

“Many of our members have operated in Trinidad and Tobago for decades and have played an important role in the development of our twin island nation since its independence in 1962. The banks have helped millions of citizens save for their retirement, own their first home, open their first small business and generally realise their dreams and aspirations.

“Indeed our members have also supported various government entities and the sovereign itself in raising funds to support the direct development of critical state projects since independence,” BATT said in a statement, adding that a functioning and vibrant financial services industry is critical to the future development and stability of Trinidad and Tobago, especially as the country grapples with the current negative economic environment.

Last week, independent legislator, Ian Roach, called on the Trinidad and Tobago government to deal with high bank changers and interest rates.

Roach, speaking on the Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act (FATCA) Tax Information Exchange Agreements, said he was making particular reference to the charges and interest rates imposed on consumers by the banks, noting that any ordinary citizen would consider the financial institutions in T&T ”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.”

Leader of the Opposition Business in the Senate, Wade Mark accused of BATT of trying to dictate how parliament conducts its business.

“They are totally out of place. Who is the Bankers Association…Amcham (American Chamber of Commerce) and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce to come and tell us that we do not need a Joint Select Committee?

“We could tell them when they want to gouge out of the eyes of people when they increase prices, that they shouldn’t do it?” he asked.

We tell them that but they don’t listen. You think we could go and tell BATT, the crim.., — I go to say criminal but you (the Senate President) might say is a wrong word — the almost unpardonable, indefensible increases in bank charges, we could go and tell the Bankers Association that they could pull back those bank fees and charges?” Mark told legislators.

In the statement, BATT said that it “categorically rejects the suggestion of artificial market control practices over the provision of services in a competitive and open market. This suggestion runs counter to free market principles and the guidelines of business conduct, which all of our members comply with”.

The bankers urged clients who may have questions regarding the services provided to them to meet with their individual bank representatives to review all aspects of these products or services, in order to determine the services that best suit them.

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(Jamaica Observer) KINGSTON, Jamaica — Proven Investments Limited (PIL) indicated today, March 13, that it has completed purchase of the Bank of St Lucia International Limited (BOSLIL) from East Caribbean Financial Holding Company Limited (ECFH).

PROVEN is an investment holding Company, incorporated in St Lucia and listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange. The newly owned entity will be renamed BOSLIL Bank.

BOSLIL has over US$300 million in assets and nearly doubles PIL's existing balance sheet. Total assets for the PIL as at December 31, 2016 stood at US$166.8 million.

Simultaneous with the completion of the acquisition, PIL said it entered into a share sale agreement with Ryan Devaux, who has been head of BOSLIL since September 2005.

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(Trinidad Express) The company has already de-listed from Guyana’s equivalent of a stock exchange, the Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange (ECSE), and the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE). It is now de-listing from the Barbados Stock Exchange, and analysts say its T&T base is next.

“Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL) wishes to advise that effective as of Monday, March 6, 2017, its ordinary shares have been de-listed from the Barbados Stock Exchange Inc. (BSE),” the company said in a Trinidad and Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission (TTSEC) Form 10 Material Change Report.

The plan to de-list from the BSE was made since July 20, 2015, when TCL shareholders unanimously voted to so do, citing high costs of being listed on these small regional capital markets.

TCL’s board of directors also passed a resolution on February 23, 2017, authorising the company to make an application to the JSE pursuant to Rule 411B to de-list the ordinary shares of TCL from the Kingston-based exchange. The application was made on March 2. “The delisting of TCL from the exchange will be effective on a date to be determined by the JSE,” the JSE said in a March 6 statement.

Last year, on January 18, TCL also de-listed from Guyana’s equivalent of a stock exchange, the Guyana Association of Securities Companies and Intermediaries (GASCI). Later that same year, effective March 1, TCL de-listed from the ECSE.

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(Barbados Today) Barbados has joined the group of countries whose dollar bonds yield more than ten per cent after Moody’s Investors Service said the island nation was likely to default, according to a story on the website of financial news provider, Bloomberg.

According to the Bloomberg article, yields on the US$255 million of notes due in 2035 rose 0.35 percentage points on Thursday to 10.23 per cent, joining securities from Venezuela, Mozambique and the Republic of Congo with double-digit yields.

On Friday, local brokerage firm WISE reported that the island’s debt due in 2022 was 10.19 per cent.

On Thursday last, in downgrading the long-term bond and issuer rating of Barbados to Caa3, Moody’s said: “We assess the likelihood of a credit event in the near-term as very high, given lack of fiscal adjustment and increasingly limited financing options.”

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(Trinidad Guardian) Two ministers in the previous People’s Partnership government have sharly criticised Minister of Finance Colm Imbert for his assertion that that administration “hid” $4.2 billion in losses at state-owned Petrotrin by treating the losses as a deferred tax asset.

In answering questions on the order paper in the Senate on Tuesday, Imbert also said the oil company had significant unpaid tax liabilities to the government.

Former Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine noted that the losses to which Imbert referred were due to cost overruns in projects under the previous People’s National Movement administration between 2007 and 2010.

According to Ramnarine: “A ‘deferred tax asset’ is recorded on the balance sheet if it is expected that the company would in the near future make a profit and have taxable income against which the deferred tax asset could be applied. That is to say, the deferred tax asset can be used. It is clear therefore that in 2015, the auditors believed that Petrotrin would return to profitability and therefore have taxable income to which the deferred tax asset could be applied.

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