St. Kitts customers irate over new fees, threaten to close their accounts

By Monique Washington

Claims that new charges will be added to accounts at the Nevis Branch of the Royal Bank of Canada/Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (RCB/RBTT) are unfounded, according to Country Manager Chad Allen.

“No charges have been added,” and no such communication has been issued,” Allen told the Observer on Wednesday. “The charges are not applicable to Nevis at this time.”

Allen indicated that if any new account charges are being considered, bank customers will be notified.

Some RBTT banks in the region have added stiff charges to account holders. In St. Kitts,RBTT added a $25 monthly fee to personal saving accounts;a $65 monthly fee for VIP banking;a $25 monthly fee for business deposit accounts; and senior citizens pay half the regular monthly charge. There is no additional charge for junior savings accounts. All fees also increase Value Added Tax charges.

On May 23,after the new charges to accounts were applied, RBC banks in Basseterre and Wellington had scores of account-holders came to the bank prepared to close their accounts.

This issue has sparked controversy between the honorable leaders Prime Minister Dr.Hon. Timothy Harris and Former Prime Minister Rt. Cr. Hon. Denzil Douglas.

The prime minister made a public statement saying his government knew about the planned fees and noted it“causedunease amongst the population.”

“Some customers are exercising their right to withdraw their funds,” he said.The prime minister explained the fee structure is not isolated to St. Kitts and Nevis, but other Caribbean territories where RBC Bank customers are also affected.

Former Prime Minster and former Minister of Finance Hon. Douglas accused the Harris led administration of “not showing any interest in the matter.”

“While the imposition of the fee is devastating to low income persons it has very little effect on the rich who are among us,” Hon. Douglas said. “Our people have been in a state of panic over this new charge. There have been zero statements by the government until very, very late, when the entire country was up in arms.”