NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Exuma Chamber of Commerce president said yesterday that half of the island’s banking population will be impacted by Scotia Bank’s exit, with no other institution having stepped up to this point to fill the gap.

Pedro Rolle told Eyewitness News that while the reopening of Sandals Emerald Bay scheduled for February 23 was “positive news” for the island, it underscored the island’s banking woes.

Sandals’ top executive said the resort has seen booking levels increase “day by day” in light of strong demand for the destination, while confirming the opening dates of its Emerald Bay and Royal Bahamian properties. As previously reported by Eyewitness News, Sandals Emerald Bay on Great Exuma will welcome guests on February 24 and Sandals Royal Bahamian on March 31.

“The situation with Sandals is positive, that’s good news for the island and certainly as it relates to employment. The fact that Sandals is opening up, though, brings us to a very troubling thing as it relates to banking,” said Rolle.

“We have not been able to get any commitment from any other commercial bank. Scotia is set to pull out at the end of this month and half of the banking population on Exuma is going to be without a bank.

“We are not getting any other bank here. We are going to have very little depository banking. I don’t think Royal Bank will simply pick up the slack because their models are a bit different.

“I’m not too sure how the weekly payroll people are going to get along without a bank.”

Last October, Scotia Bank announced that it had decided to consolidate its banking operations on Abaco, Andros, Long Island and Exuma into branches on New Providence, revealing that branch traffic had dropped as much as 50 percent in some locations.

The bank said the changes to its network were an effort to “realign its organizational structure with current revenues, as well as the significant shift in customer preferences”.

The bank indicated that changes on the impacted Family Islands “are in line with the significant shifts in customer behavior and transaction volumes over the past few years, which have accelerated since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

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