Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Kerrie Symmonds has now added his voice to the public outcry against increased bank fees and cumbersome regulations for the use of automated teller machines (ATM).
The minister especially took umbrage to the decision by some banks to institute a withdrawal minimum of $50 from the ATM, arguing that the move runs counter to the goal of becoming a cashless society, while alienating poor people and micro businesses that depend on small cash transactions.
Not mincing words in expressing his views on the recent hot button issue, Symmonds told the DAILY NATION: “This is an assault on both convenience to low-income people and an assault on the necessities of life for low-income people. I want to be very very clear on this issue. To withdraw small amounts of money from an ATM machine is for thousands of Barbadians, not only their highest level of convenience but it is also a necessity.”
He lamented further: “There are still many traders and micro businesses in this country that must be reached by low-income people and these businesses can operate only on the basis of cash, and while for some, it might seem to be petty cash, or what some higher up and better off people contemptuously call chump change, for others it is the staff of life because many of our people have little choice but to trade in cash.”