Government commenced discussion with Banco Popular aimed at securing banking services on the sister island of Virgin Gorda which for the first time in more than 20 years is without such services.
The discussion with representatives from the Bank which were described as fruitful were conducted by Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie, Ninth District Representative and Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Hon. Vincent Wheatley, as well as At Large Representative and Junior Minister for Tourism, Hon. Shereen Flax-Charles.
Hon. Fahie said that the plans to have a bank on Virgin Gorda are progressing well. However, specific details and timelines were not disclosed as the Premier stated that an official announcement will be made in the not too distant future of when it will happen.
“Thank God we are closer now than ever in making this happen thanks to Banco Popular officials, Hon. Shereen Flax Charles, Hon. Vincent Wheatley and the Premier’s Office. Together we will always achieve more,” Hon. Fahie declared.
The lack of a bank on the island has been described as a major inconvenience for residents who are now forced to travel to Tortola and the recently elected District Representative campaigned on bringing the situation to an end.
In fact, during the swearing ceremony for members of the House of Assembly Wheatley reiterated his commitment to seeing that this matter is sorted. He told the House: “For reasons known and unknown the banks that were operating on our sister islands of Anegada and Virgin Gorda have all ceased operations. Mr. Speaker this is a very vexing and frustrating issue for the people of the Ninth District.”
The seriousness of the banking situation on Virgin Gorda in particular was noted in June, 2018 when it was announced that Scotia Bank was closing its Virgin Gorda branch effective 1 September, 2018.
The news was met with worry from Virgin Gorda residents who complained that this would have a bad effect on the community. In fact, it was announced that the closure meant that for the first time in 20 to25 years there would be no bank on that island.
In recent times Scotia was one of the two remaining banks on Virgin Gorda and its closure came after its counterpart did the same. It was explained that the management of the bank cited profitability issues as the reason for the closure.
Meanwhile the previous administration had disclosed that discussions were had with the National Bank of the Virgin Islands as well as with Banco Popular regarding the possibility of opening a Virgin Gorda branch.
Following the closure of Scotiabank residents worried that no bank on the island might pose security issues for businesses.