The Bank of Guyana is actively considering penalties against Republic Bank Limited (RBL) for the slothful manner in addressing its concerns of customers following the bank’s update of its systems in early November.
“Republic Bank is forcing us in this direction” to institute penalties, Governor of the Bank of Guyana, Dr Gobind Ganga said during an engagement with the media at the Finance Ministry’s boardroom on Wednesday.
The Trinidad-headquartered bank completed the conversion of over 15 banking applications/systems on November 4 2019, resulting in lengthy delays in completing transactions, difficulty in accessing payments and inconsistencies with respect to the use of various other electronic services.
While the law does not allow the Central Bank to enforce penalties, the Governor can issue regulations or circulars forcing financial institutions to act.
Dr Ganga said the Central Bank is very disappointed in the conduct of RBL.
“The Central Bank has been in contact with Republic Bank to ensure they are putting the necessary structure in place but I should tell you, they have been very very slow,” he noted.
The Governor admitted that RBL indicated that it is doing its best but said “that very best is still not what we are accepting and so we are ensuring that they are continuously addressing this issue to make it more acceptable to the public.”
He noted that the RBL has not been forewarned since he does not want to threaten them.
Instead, the Governor will be meeting with the Guyana Association of Bankers on Friday where he will point out the obligations of all of the commercial banks.
“We want to bring things in the open, this is what is expected of you and if you’re not doing what you’re required to do, then this is the penalty,” Dr Ganga explained.
Meanwhile, he noted that RBL will also be asked to compensate aggrieved customers in the form of reduced taxes.
“We are hoping that when this new platform is put in place that they will be able to compensate the customer, some way or the other for all the discomfort they would have caused, I’m saying this publicly,” Dr Ganga said.
Republic Bank said the issues will be fully resolved by the middle of December.
The Government which recently paid its year-end bonus also called on the bank to do better.
The Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance are hoping that in 2020 it can implement new legislation that can guard against such a prolonged period of inconvenience from the banking sector.
The Governor said there will be further amendments to the Financial Institutions Act.
Included in the amendments will be the provision of more powers to the Bank of Guyana to institute penalties.
He added that a consumer protection bill will also be proposed.