Sun | Jul 5, 2020

Life’s a bank in Annotto Bay, St Mary

Published:Thursday | May 28, 2020 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

ON MAY 14, National Commercial Bank (NCB) issued a release announcing the closure of its branch in Annotto Bay, St Mary, by July 2020. It is understood that ABMs, drop boxes and 'Bank on the go' areas, as well as the NCB banking app will in essence replace the branch. The rationale given by the bank is in relation to health security in the post-COVID-19 era and other ?global trends?. Refreshingly, profit or loss was not mentioned as a stated reason for the move in the release.

NCB is the country's largest and most profitable bank and is relied upon by thousands of Jamaicans. In Annotto Bay, they have been essential to our pensioners, civil servants, transport and small-business operators, schools, students, as well as farmers. Many of them now feel abandoned by the sudden announcement. The very limited or no access to the Internet in the region, as well as low computer literacy, will create an even greater fallout here. Going forward, it is also likely that most people will bypass Annotto Bay for Port Maria to conduct financial transactions, including spending.

COVID-19 caused the lockdown of Annotto Bay in May for 14 days by the Government. This caused incalculable economic hardship for residents and businesses. The bank announced its closure in the midst of the lockdown. COVID-19 will change many things; however, strong values, good faith, partnership and social responsibility must remain unchanged.

We would like the bank to consider an extension of the date of closure to September 2020, and allow the people affected time to make adequate alternative arrangements.

Annotto Bay is open for business and the people want to grow economically and have financial security. There is now a golden opportunity for other financial institutions to step forward in the spirit of community and partnership.

DR SHANE ALEXIS

Candidate

South East St Mary