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Gov’t slams Republic Bank for customer delays; calls for “manual facility”

A now customary all-day queue at one of Republic Bank (Guyana) branches in Georgetown since the system upgrade.

The Guyana government on Thursday took Republic Bank to task over the long delays customers are experiencing in transacting business, even as the Trinidad-headquartered financial institution admitted that there are problems with its upgraded system and promised to fix them by mid-December.

Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon said Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan would be taking up the matter when he returns from overseas travel duty.

“To the extent which large sections of our population are affected by the work of the bank or by the inactivity in some regard by the bank, then the government will have to be engaged. We will not sit idly by and see large sections of our population being affected by an entity and is down and do nothing about it,” said Mr. Harmon.

The Director-General, who is a Cabinet member, called on Republic Bank to “put in place some manual facility” even as it alters its existing systems to avoid customers being inconvenienced. “If the bank has to alter its mechanisms, it has to put in place some manual facilities so that the people may get their money, then they would have to do it,” Mr. Harmon said.

He expected that Mr. Jordan and the Bank of Guyana – government’s financial institutions regulator – to address the situation, and that government would “not sit idly by and see people can’t get their salaries and things like that.” “That is wrong. The bank has to do something better than they are doing right now,” he added.

Republic Bank Guyana earlier Thursday apologised and said it was putting systems in place to ease some of the problems that its customers are enduring. “We would like to assure our clients that we are gradually resolving the challenges and we expect to have the issues fully resolved by the middle of December 2019. In the meantime, we are putting various additional measures in place to make it easier for clients to access both the information and the people needed to resolve any individual concerns,” the bank said.

The bank assured customers that, despite the hiccups, their banking information is secure and is not vulnerable to hacking. “Notwithstanding these challenges, we would like to assure clients that there have been no challenges with respect to the integrity of our data or the security of our new IT systems. Both the data and system infrastructure have been designed to satisfy the latest international standards re data protection and cyber security,” the bank said.