Don't desert the people of Junction

Letters to the Editor

Don't desert the people of Junction

Friday, December 04, 2020

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Dear Editor,

I am writing as a business owner, concerned citizen, and resident of Junction, St Elizabeth, to highlight the predicament that faces us in Junction as a result of the decision by the two largest commercial banks in the area to go cashless.

As you would already be aware, Bank of Nova Scotia and National Commercial Bank (NCB) have taken the decision to introduce cashless services in Junction, St Elizabeth. As I also understand it, the Scotiabank in Black River, which is the next nearest branch to Junction, will eventually close off operations permanently. This, of course, will have a deleterious effect on the community.

Junction is one of the fastest-developing areas in St Elizabeth. It is a major shopping area in which there are several businesses that serve the communities in southern St Elizabeth. Additionally, the area is home to many pensioners and senior citizens who must access banking services in order to carry out their daily activities.

As the operator of not only a supermarket but also a cambio and remittance service, my businesses in particular have been seriously impacted and have suffered tremendously as we have no access to cash for remittances and money exchange. I have seen significantly decrease in traffic as we are now unable to meet the needs of the customers in the area. The money transfer and cambio services have suffered as there is no cash to purchase currency. This is not a sustainable situation.

We talk everyday about the importance of small businesses in providing jobs and creating wealth and, especially now, increasing commercial and productive activity, but here we are in Junction without this critical service. The move by the banks is counter-productive to all that businesses must be doing to revive our economy.

My conversation with the banks separately revealed that the move by Scotiabank was fuelled by an international decision, while NCB is reportedly moving to protect its staff from the effects of COVID-19. While the latter is a serious concern, are we to believe that COVID-19 will only affect the staff in Junction, St Elizabeth, while sparing the other staff members spread throughout the island?

The fact that this move was made without any consultation with the customers or business community is also a slap in the face of its customers. Customers are now left to travel to other parishes, or into farther areas of St Elizabeth, in order to conduct their banking business. This will affect business operations, increase travelling costs for both businesses and individuals, not to mention the increased security risk.

As business owners, we are at the mercy of these institutions and as such we ask that both NCB and Scotiabank to reconsider this move as it is greatly affecting their customers and can only get worse. Both banks have made significant contributions to the community over the years and have fostered good community relations.

To see them leave under the current circumstances in which we should all be coming together to build a stronger nation and a stronger community is really disappointing. Consider us please, NCB and Scotia.

I invite further dialogue with the banks and have placed my e-mail address here to facilitate any attempt to engage me in the matter.

Oral Lloyd

Chairman

InTown Group

Junction, St Elizabeth

intown@cwjamaica.com


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