Sir Ron Should Know Better

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In his newspaper column recently, Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbudas Ambassador to the United States, the United Nations and the Organisation of American States, came out strongly in support of Antiguas position AGAINST ScotiaBank selling its interests in St Johns to our Republic Bank.

In fact, Sir Ron who is Guyanese by birth and instinct, seemed also to be supportive of Guyanas somewhat negative response to the Scotia sale of its Georgetown assets.

The Antigua government in essence feels that its local banks should have been given an opportunity to bid for Scotias operations there, and the government should have been consulted. It also feels that by Republics purchase of the Canadian bank, therell be foreign ownership of much of the island nations financial equity. Antigua would prefer to keep profits at home for use in its own economic growth and social development.

All that sounds reasonable enough, except that as Caribbean people, those at Republic Bank may cringe at being regarded as foreignin the same context as ScotiaBank.

The Guyana position is that with the sale, Republic would control 53% of total assets in the banking sector and more than fifty percent of deposits. This would allow the bank to influence interest rates and lending policies

Our view is that both positions are the basis for good discussion and strong argument. Republic Bank should be able to handle its own storiesas the saying goes. In fact, the CEO of Republic has already said that the Bank is confident that when it has explained itself, all should be well.

We here arent about to fight anyones fight, but well side with Scotia purely as a business operation, when it says Guyana and the smaller islands of the Caribbean collectively offer little in future for its changed business model. Surely it must be the right of any business operation to determine its future.

Sir Rons article started on the right footing for discussion, but went off track when he concluded that ScotiaBank owes the people of Antigua a moral obligation  because for fifty years it made its profits from locals, and transferred those profits to Canada. For at least two years, Scotia has been signalling that it wanted to sell, yet none of the localscame forward.

The conclusion seems to be, give us the damn thing free and Sir Ron knows better!