29 September, 2009
I heard a lie on the Chief Minister’s press conference today. He said that the only way our two local banks can compete on the regional scene is if they amalgamate. The local banks he was talking about are the National Bank of Anguilla and the Caribbean Commercial Bank. The suggestion from the Hon Chief Minister (and, by the way, active Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Caribbean Commercial Bank) was that there is a need for the NBA and the CCB to come together. We should get rid of the NBA and CCB as separate entities. Somehow, this coming together of these two sprats will make them big mackerels and more capable of resisting the present financial crisis.
In my opinion, there is nothing that is further from the truth. Would our two small fry together be bigger than the American giants that failed and went bankrupt this year? Absolutely not! Size is no guarantee. Competition and carefulness wins out every day. The integrity and caution of the Boards in dealing with all the wonderful-sounding applications coming forward from the loans committees was what counted. I want to know, what is the Chief Minister/Chairman of the Board hiding from us ignorant little people?
What we know for certain is that the CCB and the NBA working separately over the past 25 years have done wonders for the Anguillian people. Competition has been good for the Anguillian consumer. We have done well having these two banks competing with each other. The consumers have been the ones to benefit. That is you and me. The two banks themselves have stayed lean and mean. That was good for their shareholders.
Have you travelled by air recently? Since Stanford’s airline went under and was bought by LIAT? Service by the remaining monopoly provider sucks. Prices have risen astronomically, and service has dropped precipitately. There is no doubt that the absence of competition in the local airline service has been hard on the consumer, that is, you and me. It will always be the same whatever the service industry.
God help us all in
Anguilla if NBA and CCB should amalgamate. The consumer, ie, you and me, will be the victim. We will be at the mercy of avaricious, dangerous monopoly. The shareholders of the strong will buy out the losses of the weak. Naught times one always equals naught.
I kid you not!
Is the truth that one of the two local banks made too many bad loans? Is one of them about to go under? Well, so be it. What is left after the bankruptcy will have to be bought out by someone. Fire the Chairman and the Board of Directors of the bankrupt company. But, no amalgamation between a failed bank and a successful one should be allowed while pretending it is a joining of equals, please. Just my opinion.