By Gary Eleazar
Guyana’s Central Bank is currently exploring ways of sanctioning Republic Bank over the plethora of problems experienced by customers when the institution recently upgraded its digital software but the regulator is without legal standing and will firstly opt for moral persuasion.
Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. Gobin Ganga, made the disclosure yesterday on the sidelines of a media engagement at the Ministry of Finance and that Bank of Guyana (BoG) would be meeting with the Guyana Association of Bankers (GAB) on Friday over the matter.
He was quick to concede, however, that the entity was without any actual legal footing to impose any penalties in this instance.
Dr. Ganga said while the bank will be looking to have the affected customers compensated by the Trinidad and Tobago (T&T)-based Republic Bank, the regulator will be looking to have legislation in place to avoid such a reoccurrence in future.
Speaking in the presence of the Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, the BoG Governor, said that Central Bank has indicated to Republic Bank its disappointment with respect to the upgrade and that the Trinidadian bank has been slow to react.
He said the regulator has been working continuously with the bank in “addressing the issue to make it more acceptable to public”.
According to Dr. Ganga, it is “hoped that when the new platform is in place that they will be able to compensate customers in some way or the other.”
Asked about penalties that can be levelled against Republic Bank over the disruptions to its service, the BoG Governor said, “Republic Bank is forcing us in that direction.”
When asked to elucidate, however, Dr. Ganga conceded that there isn’t in fact any legislation that can be used to directly apply a penalty.
He was asked directly if the laws provide for the current situation to which he responded in the negative.
He did point out that the bank is working with the Ministry with a view towards bringing update legislation and changes in regulation among other options.
Elaborating on the move to have the regulator persuade Republic Bank to pay some form of compensation, Jordan said, “That is what bankers do; bankers tend to be very conservative”. Should this not work then the authorities would further seek to impose the law, he added.
Dr. Ganga did indicate that the authorities were perusing existing legislation to see whether penalties can be applied.
Republic Bank (Guyana) began the implementation of a new banking platform to take effect on November 4, 2019 but experienced countrywide problems and shutdowns that led to thousands of lost man-hours and business transactions.
Dr. Ganga told Kaieteur News that the authorities were still assessing the total losses and economic impact of the software glitch.
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