Green Turtle Cay Chief Councillor, Matthew Lowe expressed disappointment over the recent announcement of the closing of the local bank branch and is concerned it could have a “devastating” effect on the Cay’s economy.
Mr. Lowes said that he was informed on April 25 that First Caribbean International Bank (FCIB) would be closing their “sub-branch” on Green Turtle Cay at the end of this May. According to an announcement FCIB will also close sub-branches on Man-O-War and Hope Town.
Mr. Lowe noted that there has been a bank on Green Turtle Cay for several decades, going back to Barclays Bank. “Until a few years ago, FCIB was open on Green Turtle Cay twice a week and currently it is only open on Thursdays. Perhaps that was a sign of things to come, and unfortunately, it now seems so,” he said.
Mr. Lowe added that “as a concerned citizen and as the Chief Councillor, I spoke with the local manager of the Marsh Harbour branch to ask a few questions, however, after our conversation, it would seem that this closure was inevitable. I was still not able to ascertain the particular reason.”
He said that the bottom line is this closure will have “a devastating effect on the commerce on the island.”
He noted that Green Turtle Cay has two resorts and several marinas as well as several second home rentals that cater to a high volume of tourist throughout the year. This closure will affect businesses, their employees and visitors alike.
Mr. Lowe said that outside of Green Turtle Cay the nearest bank which is a 10 minute ferry ride and then a 30 minute drive to Marsh Harbour, as the Treasure Cay Branch of Royal Bank of Canada has also closed.
Mr. Lowe said he discussed one alternative, which was to have an ATM/ABM machine, to possibly solve the employees issue of getting cash at the end of the work week, and to also assist visitors seeking cash while on their trip here.
He said that after several challenging years Green Turtle Cay seemed ready to “turn the corner”; however, with the only bank on the cay closing its doors, there could be a setback.
Chief Councillor of the Hope Town District Council (HTDC) added that “I am deeply disappointed in the decision by CIBC/FCIB to close their branches in Hope Town and Man-O-War.”
He said that the branch in Man-O-War had been in operation from the early ’70’s.
Mr. Sweeting fears “this move would pose a security risk to many of my constituents, as they would now have to travel weekly to Marsh Harbour to conduct their business, while banking personnel was escorted by security to and from the cays.”
He said that he believes CIBC is acting in terms of feasibility and the economics of the situation “but this is an essential service that will be taken away.”
Both Mr. Lowe and Mr. Sweeting have reached out to The Abaco Chamber of Commerce as the District Councils are reaching out to CIBC/FCIB to reconsider.
He added that “if this goes nowhere, we will encourage other financial institutions to consider establishing satellite branches in these areas to continue this service.”