Public outraged over outrageous fees

Briefs, Letters

THE public, as taxpayers and shareholders, have every right to be outraged by the hike in fees imposed by BSP.
If you were to dig deep to make sense of BSP’s move, you will be confronted with a number of conspiracy theories, chief among them are BSP’s over-ambitious social responsibility schemes and its increasing number of non-citizens.
Whatever the reason(s), the bank is ripping off small income earners and savers.
Most, if not all, of the bank’s customers and clients are already paying taxes – either income tax and/or GST.
And for the bank to hit them with a sucker punch is immoral.
Personal debts will spiral out of control.
The country will be forced back into a cash-based society rather than the opposite and posing more harm to citizens, especially with an increase in law and order problems.
There is denying that fees have to be paid for services and products but not at the rate imposed by BSP.
By the way, what yardstick did it use to derive its new fee structure?
In the absence of a bankers ombudsman, BSP and other commercial banks should display their true social obligation by disclosing in the media for public benefit how the fees are arrived at or its matrix.
In real terms for instance, how would customers know that it takes so much effort and time worth K3 to process a deposit when it could have cost 0.50t or an ATM transaction charge of 0.75t may in fact be worth 0.10t?
Have we forgotten about transparency in good corporate governance?
Why is there such a huge contrast interest?
Interest rates paid on personal accounts savings is a mere 0.15% but personal loans attract 18% and home loans 8.20%.
An increase in charges should be the last resort if all else fails.
There is a host of alternate means to increase non-interest income, empirical evidence holds prove of that, without subjecting taxpayers into undue financial miseries.
Perhaps we should start with cost saving.
One way is to shed non-citizen staff numbers as only God knows what they cost.
Another way is to outsource non-core banking business.
Aggressive foreign exchange dealing is another approach that can bring in sizable income that can equal or surpass total income from the new fees given that bank executives are travelling overseas lobbying for foreign investors.
The strategic position of the bank in the country is such that the LNG-related transactions will pass through its system, an obvious opportunity staring us in the face to derive both interest and non-interest income.
Charging the little person who is a citizen, worker and a significant shareholder of BSP is the most ruthless means and the “thugs” on the board and executive management of BSP should be ashamed of themselves.
It is also a shame representatives from the two superannuation funds on the board of BSP allowed the management to subject the small people into such a fate.
They all should resign in disgrace or shareholders must replace them.
The government must not sit back and allow corporate bullies to rob its citizens, it must act swiftly simply because the government has done nothing to lower the income tax to ease the pressure on workers take-home pay.


Anton Sekum
PNG Trade Union Congress executive