Tuesday March 1, 2005 - Minister for Consumer Affairs Hon Phillip J
Pierre has taken issue with a $25 fee charged by banks on the island for the
issuance of letters of verification of account balances to consumers. The
Minister has strongly requested that the fee be reduced, in a letter to the
banks dated February 25, 2005.
When clients request a letter of verification for the balances on their account
from their banks, they must first pay $25 in order to get that letter. That fee,
according to Minister for Consumer Affairs Phillip J Pierre is too high. The
Minister said whereas banks may incur some cost to make the letter available,
there is no justification for the exorbitant fee.
“What argument can you use for charging $25 for one sheet of paper with three or
four lines? I understood that the bank should be charging some fee. I was saying
that $25 was too much and that the banks should reduce that amount, because it
is really a burden on most consumers,” Minister Pierre said.
The Minister’s letter dated 25th February, 2005 was copied to all media houses
and has been forwarded to the Caribbean Central Bank. He informed further: “I
must add, the banks are really monitored and regulated by the Eastern Caribbean
Central Bank. So this is why I did copy the letter to the Eastern Caribbean
Central Bank. They are regulators for the commercial banks in St. Lucia and the
Minister Pierre said that kind of information provided by the banks through
verification letters is also required by third parties, such as the Inland
Revenue and pointed out that customers are compelled to pay the huge fee, if
they want to comply with the requests of the third party. The Minister said this
was unfair and should be corrected as soon as possible.