COB wants even playing field
The City of Bridgetown Credit Union (COB) is unhappy with some financial regulations which it says restricts it from certain businesses, including trading in savings bonds.
COB’s Chief Executive Officer, Steve Belle made this disclosure yesterday, while speaking during the opening of their new branch at Carlton Plaza, Black Rock, St Michael.
Addressing those attending the opening ceremony, including Minister of Finance, Chris Sinckler, Belle told the Minister the credit union was seeking his intervention on several matters which had been engaging the attention of COB.
He said, “The recent decision by the Central Bank of Barbados to deregulate the [percentage] set on interests rates of savings accounts and the intervention of that institution in the market by issuing of savings bonds places COB at a disadvantage to the commercial banks”.
“While we at COB have to compete with banks for savings and loans business, the opportunity to generate fees as well as improve the value proposition of our service offerings to our over 55,000 members through the sale and retention of savings bonds is not allowed, as under existing laws the redemption of savings bonds are restricted to commercial banks.
“We therefore request that the appropriate authorities address this issue so that we can more effectively cater to our membership,” Belle insisted.
In subsequent remarks at the function, Sinckler expressed understanding of the credit union’s request and urged these savings cooperatives to continue to put their case to the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank, but warned , “be careful what you wish for”.
He advised that in their desire to be granted financial trading privileges similar to commercial banks, credit unions must expect to be subjected to the same rigid conditions to which the for-profit companies are subjected.
“With greater freedom comes greater responsibility, and when you portend to adopt a different stance on quality with commercial banks … you too will have to live with the standards of commercial bank,” Sinckler said.
It is COB’s fourth branch, adding to the existing ones located at the Manor Lodge Complex, Green Hill outlet, and the Broad Street, Bridgetown headquarters of the 33-year-old savings and loans institution.