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Eustace objects to comments made by CEO of NCB

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Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace has strongly objected to the comments made by Chief Executive Officer of the National Commercial Bank Andre Iton that there may be ‘much ado about nothing’ regarding the divestment of shares of the bank.{{more}}

Speaking on the radio programme ‘New Times’ on Monday, October 18, Eustace said that based on what the government had been telling the Vincentian public about the good position of the bank, the news of the sale of the 51 per cent of the total shares was cause for concern.

“I take much objection to the statement made by Mr Iton that all the talk about the bank is ‘much ado about nothing’,” Eustace said.

“The people of this country have been continually told that the bank was doing well, then all of a sudden, they hear it is being sold, and they hear some of the conditions under which it is being sold,” he continued.

“It is only natural that they (the people) raise some concern, and it was for the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines to explain to the public, because the government has been telling the people that all was well with the bank.”

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, October 12, Iton said that there was going to be little or no significant changes in the way the Bank will conduct its business.

Iton further contended that the sale was not an uncommon occurrence in the region or the world.

He said that the ownership change from government to the private sector brought the bank in line with the banking practice throughout the world.

But the Opposition Leader maintained the view that the people of this country had the right to be informed and had the right to comment.

“Is it much ado about nothing when government say all is well with the bank but we (the NDP) knew and he (Iton) knew that that was not true? Is it much ado about nothing that the loan to deposit ratio reached as high as 96 per cent which meant that at one time the bank had nothing to lend? Is it much ado about nothing when the bank had to borrow $100 million to reduce its own arrears at the bank?” Eustace questioned.

He also responded to the CEO’s comment that other banks have been changing ownership and names.

However Eustace negated the comment saying that the former National Commercial Bank belonged to the people of this country and they have the right to continue to ask questions.

“This has nothing to do with merits and demerits of selling the bank to St Lucia, but the people were told that the bank was in a strong position, then they wake up and find out it was sold.”

“They must raise issues,” he said.

“And I take strong objection that this is ‘much ado about nothing’ Mr Iton.” (DD)