I responded on Tuesday morning to Republic Bank’s request to customers that as a requirement of the Anti-Money Laundering Law they have to come in to re-identify themselves and bring proof of address.
I took the GT&T bill for my wife, my GPL bill for me and UG’s letter to my daughter as proof of her residence. All three bills had the letter-head of the respective institutions. The bank accepted GT&T and GPL paper and made photocopies but rejected the UG document.
They asked me to sign a declaration form testifying to the fact of my daughter’s address because they did not accept the UG letterhead. I protested, pointing out to them that UG is a vital part of the Guyanese landscape. They tried to placate me but did not make a copy of the UG letter to my daughter. In other words, the declaration form is what they used to store my daughter’s address. They just didn’t want to see the UG document at all. The people just weren’t interested in the UG paper.
Commonsense went out of the window at Republic Bank. Of the three – GT&T, GPL and UG – the last one is synonymous with Guyana. This is an important national symbol of the sovereign status of Guyana. One would have thought that the UG paper would have carried more recognition but the Republic Bank did not feel that way.
I have written a voluminous amount on the decline of UG. Today, look how UG is perceived by the wider society. It is clear to me that the rejection of the UG letterhead by Republic Bank is a reflection of how the bank sees UG – a place that has fallen down so badly that its documents are not given the same recognition as others.
So who has the last laugh? The UG officials before the new Vice-Chancellor took over last April, and the Government were incensed at my criticism of UG’s coma. They dismissed the validity of my analyses. But look at how Republic Bank feels about UG. Who has the last laugh?
The people of this country are treated badly by all types of stakeholders. Republic Bank has asked all its customers to come in but cannot cater for the deluge. A lady in the queue behind the former President of the TUC, Andrew Garnett, told me that she was standing in the line for one and a half hours. The man behind her told me he needed to go to the urinal but Republic Bank does not have that facility.
In fairness to Republic Bank, no other bank has such bathroom accommodation. In fairness to Republic Bank too, there have been criticisms in the newspapers of other financial houses, particularly Bank of Nova Scotia. There was a controversy over Scotia Bank’s refusal to accept an expired passport. Strangely, there was no castigation of that financial institution.
A passport is the permanent property of the Government of Guyana. It is issued by the Guyana Police Force after a diligent process of screening. It is solid form of identification. For the purpose of travel, one cannot use an expired passport but its passed date does not invalidate its identity content. An expired passport is still a legal form of the true picture of its holder.
The police should issue a statement demanding that the people, institutions and organization of Guyana accept a passport as a form of nationality whether it has expired or not.
Bureaucracy at commercial banks can become idiotic at times. A few months ago, I wrote the wrong figure on my deposit slip. I scratched it and initialed it but the teller told me to use another slip. I refused. She brought her supervisor. I told him to get his manager because I was not going to re-do the slip. There was no need to. This was taking bureaucracy too far.
I am a customer of Republic Bank and I think I have a moral right to fault the bank when it stumbles. The bank has centralized deposits at its ATMs. It has withdrawal deposit facilities at its booth on New Market Street. You can only deposit at the crowded Camp Street branch.
This is a contraction rather than an extension of service to customers.
Secondly, Republic Bank has given in to pressure from the Government to have NAACIE unionize its employees. That is unfair to other trade unions and the TUC must protest vigorously and picket the bank. NAACIE has issued a press release saying it has already conducted an orientation programme for the employees. CLICO and Republic Bank are sister institutions. Their owner, Mr. Duprey, rides tall in Guyana.
I will eat a piece of Exxon Christmas Cake with your ingredients inside.
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