BATT issued a statement in response to comments made by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar challenging the organisation’s influence . The organisation said further, such comments jeopardise the industry’s integrity.
“The Bankers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT) notes with concern the recent disparaging comments made by individuals and other Industry groups about the overall integrity of the Banking Industry as the discussion on fees and service charges have continued. While BATT welcomes a discourse on this important issue, we must respectfully request that this discussion take place in an atmosphere of mutual respect.”
“We must consider the negative perception and damaging effects remarks of this nature can have on an industry which employs over 10,000 Trinidad and Tobago citizens, represents over 15% of our nation’s GDP and which provides services to close to one million Trinidad and Tobago 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 realize on 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.”
“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. We can reflect on the damage done to the world economy by the collapse in 2008 of the financial industry in the USA to understand how destructive the effects of a financial sector shock and the resulting loss in confidence can have on any country.”
“BATT also 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.”
BATT said it understands that clients may have questions related to services provided by its members and encourages clients to meet with their individual bank representative to review all aspects of any product or service provided to them and to determine the services that are best suited for them.
BATT said the commercial banking industry in Trinidad and Tobago have also invested significantly over the years in a “world class technological backbone, with heightened safeguards, providing new infrastructure and capabilities for substitute products / services at an even lower costs cost base”, adding that it would be trying to educate stakeholders more on this.
BATT said it has partnered with the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) and has supported its Financial Literacy programs and the publication of the fees and charges of all members on the CBTT website to allow clients an opportunity to objectively compare the various services provided by each of our members.
“We are not aware of any other industry in Trinidad and Tobago that has this level of openness and transparency,” it said.
BATT said it will continue its public education campaign over the coming months to ensure all persons are provided with the information they need to make informed decisions.