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We’re opposed to shortening hours at the bank – PM

We’re opposed to shortening hours at the bank – PM
RALPH GONSALVES, Prime Ministers

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The decision by several financial institutions to shorten their hours of operation is not sitting well with the Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

Since the confirmation of COVID-19 in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and the recommendation by the Ministry of Health to practice physical distancing, a number of financial institutions have shortened their hours of operation.
However, the shortened hours has created another problem as the process of accessing counter/teller services seems to have slowed down and it appears that fewer customers are being served.

“We in the government, we are entirely opposed to the shortening of hours at the bank,” Gonsalves told journalists at the conference room of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday.

He said that Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves had spoken to at least one bank and he (the prime minister) has been advised that other officials in the Ministry of Finance have also addressed the issue.

“What sense does it make? …and I know that it is a matter where we would like to see it reconsidered,” said Gonsalves, who opined that operating hours should not be slashed too severely.

He also noted that the longer COVID-19 goes on, the approach of the government is, “to not use a chainsaw where a scalpel may be appropriate.”

Gonsalves said even when facilities like tents and hand wash stations are provided outside these institutions, we still must be careful.

He said there are persons who advocate a lock down, asking for one day a week or three hours out of one day to buy food, but a set-up like that will undo everything a lock down is supposed to achieve as persons can be seen “climbing over others in the supermarket”.

He commented that the long lines that persons stand in to do banking, benefit no one.

The prime minister said in these times, we must operate reasonably, as every country is different and judgments must be made in relation to the population.

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