Banks To Open Wednesday

Office of the Premier | 1 Opinions
Published: September 12, 2017 3:58 pm AST
Photo Credit: GIS
Premier of the Virgin Islands, Hon Dr D. Orlando Smith, OBE has swiftly met with banks in the Virgin Islands to immediately address issues of cash flow as the Virgin Islands begins to quickly respond to the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma. Out of the meeting, Premier Smith shared that banks have agreed to collectively open their doors for business on Wednesday, September 13 between the hours of 10AM – 1PM and have ATMs available for cash as soon as tomorrow, Tuesday, September 12.

“Our government fully understands the importance of ensuring that we quickly begin the arduous task of rebuilding our Territory, and so I have begun daily meetings with essential arms of our economy, social and civic make-up, so that we can work quickly to get the Virgin Islands back to normalcy.” stressed Premier Smith. Speaking to bank representatives from National Bank of the Virgin Islands, Scotia Bank and First Caribbean earlier today, Premier Smith expressed an immediate need for those banks to be up and running to support the rebuild of the Virgin Islands.

Speaking on behalf of Sjored Koster of VP Bank, President of the BVI Bank Association, CEO of National Bank of the Virgin Islands, Joy Francis said, “The banks are fully aware of the need to ensure cash is available and we have been working with each other and we are collectively confident about the cash on hand and our ability to provide that access to all of our clients.”

For the business community, the banks have confirmed that if employers have access to internet, they can run their electronic payrolls and salaries will be made to employees’ accounts so employees can have access to cash via ATMs. For employers running manual payrolls, the banks have agreed to assist business owners to ensure salaries can continue to be paid.

Given the infrastructural damage to the Territory, the islands have now become a dominantly cash economy. The banks have given Premier Smith assurance that they can provide the cash in the economy that is needed and have already triggered their back up plans. The banks will be meeting with Premier Smith again this Wednesday, to discuss plans for loan reprieves for both businesses and personal accounts. Premier Smith reaffirms that his administration will be working proactively with the business community to spur on the Territory’s rebuilding process.

Premier's Statement

Virgin Islanders and residents as we join together in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, I continue to ask for your prayers, support and heartwarming demonstrations of kindness towards one another as we all rebuild our communities and our lives.

Moving ahead, I will be reporting to you daily on the actions our Government has taken to begin the rebuilding process to bring the Virgin Islands, our landscape, our communities and our people back to normalcy. Even now, I am encouraged that we will rebuild and we will be even stronger.

Let me quickly address the concern of looting that has been going on. We are working closely with the police and community to identify individuals. The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force has received images from various residents of persons in the act of looting and with stolen goods. We will be prosecuting those individuals. Such acts do not represent who we are as a community and we will not stand for it. These acts greatly hamper recovery efforts and negatively affects the businesses that we will have to rely on to provide jobs, offer services and support the rebuilding of our community.

We have also been monitoring price gouging by some businesses and I am strongly appealing to those businesses to exercise better industry and community relations, as residents seek goods and services to get the Virgin Islands quickly back to normalcy.

Our government fully understands the importance of ensuring that we quickly begin the arduous task of rebuilding our Territory, and so I have begun daily meetings with essential arms of our economy, social and civic make-up so that we can work quickly to get the Virgin Islands back to normalcy.

Yesterday, September 11, I met with bank representatives from Scotia Bank, National Bank of the Virgin Islands and First Caribbean Bank to immediately address issues of cash flow as the Virgin Islands begins to quickly respond to the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma. Out of the meeting, the banks have agreed to collectively open their doors for business on Wednesday, September 13 between the hours of 10AM – 1PM and have ATMs available for cash as soon as today, Tuesday, September 12.

For the business community, the banks have confirmed that if employers have access to internet, they can run their electronic payrolls and salaries will be made to employees’ accounts so employees can have access to cash via ATMs. For employers running manual payrolls, the banks have agreed to assist business owners to ensure salaries can continue to be paid.

Given the infrastructural damage to the Territory, our islands have now become a cash economy. The banks have given me assurance that they can provide the cash that is needed and have already triggered their back up plans. I will be meeting again with the banks this Wednesday, to discuss plans for loan reprieves for both businesses and personal accounts. I reaffirm that my administration will be working proactively with the business community to spur on the Territory’s rebuilding process.

Yesterday I also had the opportunity to meet with representatives of Caribbean Insurance Limited, NAGICO Insurances, Creque’s Insurance Agency, Colonial Insurance, Mutual Insurance, Alphonso Warner Insurance Agency and the Insurance Company of the West Indies. While Caribbean Insurance Limited has already started the claims process for their clients, all other agents and companies agreed that no later than Monday, September 18 their offices and staff will be ready to serve the public.

Ruth Phillips, President of the Insurance Association of the British Virgin Islands has assured me that collectively the insurance companies in the Virgin Islands are confident that they will be able to process claims. The agents represented also shared that they have gotten confirmations from their reinsurers that they are also confident that they will be able to honour claims. My government will work with these companies to ensure their offices and staff will be ready to accept, and quickly work on claims.

The insurance companies agreed that the process for filing claims across the board will be:

• Completion of a claim form
• Provision of one detailed estimate from a reputable contractor inclusive of quantities and costs
• Provision of pictures
• And encouragement for property owners to do what is needed to preserve the value of their property

Understanding the level of damage caused to homes and properties, I have also been able to get a commitment from the insurance companies to work within reason with long standing clients who might have been a month or two behind on their insurance payments prior to the passage of Hurricane Irma.

Of our community, I would like to encourage all property owners to work closely with their insurance agents and quickly file claims so we can restore the Virgin Islands to the pristine and scenic landscape we have all come to know and enjoy. I also ask that residents exercise some level of patience as well. Hurricane Irma has thrusted all of us into a new era in the Virgin Islands and we will need to be patient and supportive of one another as we work together to return our islands to normalcy.

Virgin Islanders, residents and friends, in these days, I recall the words of our Territorial song which reminds us, with strength and will power we will overcome to restore Virgin Islands pride. Let us all remain, BVI Strong.

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