Laws across Caribbean nations need to be harmonised if the creation of a credit bureau for the sharing of information among indigenous banks as a means of tracking bad creditors and money launderers is to become a reality.
This is the consensus that emerged from the 34th Annual General Meeting and Conference of the Caribbean Association of Indigenous Bankers (CAIB) which wrapped up yesterday at the Guyana International Conference Centre after three days of deliberations.
As things are at the moment, states in the Caribbean all have laws precluding the sharing of account holder or client information. This counters efforts aimed at tracking bad creditors or those involved in funnelling proceeds of crime from one jurisdiction to another.
Speaking at the closing press conference yesterday, Chairman of the CAIB Michael Archibald said some discussion has begun on the setting up of the credit bureau for the sharing of information.
Interest rate spread
The CAIB believes that the advent of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) should see the reduction of the spread between interest rates for deposits and loans since it will open the region to more competition.
Archibald said the issue of the spread was not adequately discussed at the meeting and the banks will have to address it on an individual basis. It is the feeling of the CAIB that although the spread in the Caribbean is higher than other regions of the globe, it has been closing gradually. President Bharrat Jagdeo and Governor of the Bank of Guyana Lawrence Williams, speaking at the opening of the meeting on Monday, both said that banks needed to look at reducing the spread.
High software cost
Archibald said the cost to the bankers in the fight against money laundering was high and one that they could ill afford. He said that depending on the size of the bank, the anti-money laundering software could be in the neighbourhood of US$100,000 to US$500,000.
Banks around the Caribbean are discussing ways in which they could share the cost of the anti-money laundering software.
Archibald said that the CAIB was developing a position paper on anti-money laundering and this would take some time to complete.
He said the membership endorsed CAIB’s position on anti-money laundering and on advocacy for a number of other issues pertinent to the indigenous banks in the region.
Archibald called the meeting and conference very successful and said he was very pleased with how everything turned out. The next meeting is to be held in Barbados next November.