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Is there any more room on the bandwagon of the “opening of our new bank”? If there is, I would love to hop on it. However, I may cause some trouble once I start opening your eyes to reality.

Firstly, should we be celebrating a new bank or the reopening of banking services to the constituency? Just in case your cataract hasn’t been operated on as yet, let me remind you that we had banking services in North Leeward a long time ago. Yes, we had a long-serving branch of the then National Commercial Bank in Chateaubelair, catering to the banking needs of the people of North Leeward. One may ask, “What happened to such services over the last 10 plus years?” Before I give my response, I will refer you to the following excerpt.

In an article, “Chateaubelair and North Leeward have been neglected”, published by iWitness News on Nov. 20, 2020 iWitness News, the writer opined”

“The town of Chateaubelair lost its township decades ago. Under the rule of the Unity Labour Party (ULP), which has been in office since March 2001, Chateaubelair has gotten from bad to worse.

“Persons might even be upset with me for inferring that the ruinous times were as far back as the times of New Democratic Party (NDP) rule, which is not so. At such times we had a fully functional branch of the state-owned National Commercial Bank (NCB). Our fishing industry was so viable that we habitually supplied the locals, Kingstown fish market, and the numerous boats that bought fish for our northern neigbours. These boats were affectionately called ‘French Boat’. Agriculture was prosperous as we were able to flood the local depots with fresh produce weekly. Yes, that was Chateaubelair and by extension North Leeward long before ULP. Now, this is Chateaubelair: on either side of the main street, there is a sore eye relic of abandoned and dilapidated buildings. Even some which house persons are sights to behold”.

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This article tells nothing but the truth. I am pleased that it was written by someone else and not Troy Prince. I know that a lot of North Leeward constituents who are clothed in red and drink from the fountain of red kool-aid will have a lot to say about Troy Prince in this article. I know a lot of you reading this will be saying that I am a pessimist, negative and never satisfied with whatever “good” is done for North Leeward by the ULP.

If this is your conclusion after reading this article then I guess it is just a matter of the truth pricking your conscience.

As for me, the decades of neglect and bare minimum that North Leeward continues to suffer under the rule of the ULP cause me to be this way. It is not that I am concerned much about your opinion of me, but I hope your eyes can open up and vision the things I dream about for North Leeward. Nonetheless, I write this article with no remorse and nothing but the unfiltered facts.

Secondly, the reopening of banking services to North Leeward was a long awaited need. I am pleased that banking services will be returning to North Leeward once and for all. However, there really isn’t anything to congratulate Carlos James and the ULP about.

Clearly, the decision to reopen a branch of the Bank of SVG in North Leeward has nothing to do with Carlos James. Now, he may boast that he campaigned on it last election and now he has delivered. Mr. James let me remind you that you continue to steal Mr. Patel Matthews’s ideas for North Leeward. You ran with the Long Line-road project in Coulls Hill, English and German gutter in Troumaca, the technical centre in Petit Bordel and now banking services in Chateaubelair.

These are all ideas that Mr. Matthews campaigned on during his stint in active politics. It is time enough you come up with novel ideas for your constituency Mr. James.

Troy Prince
Troy Prince in an Oct. 1, 2022 photo.

Permit me to remind you that Mr. Matthews, in January 2020, told a village meeting in Sharpes, Chateaubelair, that there is no banking service in the town.

Mr. Matthews said:

“This is 2020. This is 2020, people. We have tourists coming into Chateaubelair with their cards asking where is the ATM. Somebody say, ‘In Barrouallie.’ When yo’ go to the bank in Barrouallie and yo’ line up, Ben [Exeter] people cutting up behind yo’ because dem ah say, ‘Way alyo bank dey?’”

He told constituents that when they vote for him and his New Democratic Party (NDP) a branch of the Bank of SVG would open in Chateaubelair.

“We have to bring back Chateaubelair as a town. We must bring it back,” he said”. In essence, the key words at play in this quote in 2020 by Matthews are “we must bring back Chateaubelair to a town”.

Thirdly, with the return of banking services to North Leeward does this return Chateaubelair to a town? I will let you answer that for yourself. To assist in this regard, let me educate you that a town is generally larger than a village, but smaller than a city. Towns usually have local self-government, and may grow around specialised economic activities such as mining or railroading.

In addition, towns can be differentiated from villages based on their economic character, in that most of a town’s population will tend to derive their living from manufacturing industry, commerce and public services rather than primary sector industries such as agriculture or related activities. Now, can we say that the reopening of banking services to North Leeward all of a sudden return Chateaubelair to an effectively and efficiently functioning town?

Regrettably, the reopening of a bank in Chateaubelair comes at a time when the people have little or no use for such. Call me a pessimist or negative, but this is the truth. The people of North Leeward do not have anything happening for them right now to ensure that they use the services being rendered by the bank fully. With the death of agriculture, fisheries and tourism in North Leeward, the presence of a bank is just as good as not having one. The most that such an institution would be used for will be to pay bills. That’s the only thing that has been increasing in North Leeward for the last two decades.

North Leeward right now would have been better served if a money transfer service was offered. If this was the return of MoneyGram or the opening of a Western Union in North Leeward, then the constituents would have put it to effective use. Remittances are by far the best thing that is going for the people of North Leeward. With a Western Union and/or MoneyGram in North Leeward, the people of North Leeward could save $50 each time they go to a neighbouring town to collect money sent to them by friends and relatives.

Mr. James there’s another idea to run with then take credit for it.

Lastly, it is a good feeling having banking services returning to North Leeward, but it is not the saving grace. The people of North Leeward need sustainable jobs. We need to see our agricultural, fisheries and tourism sectors vibrant and booming once more. People need money in their pockets so they can visit the bank to save then eventually take loans. What good are banking services if limited persons have savings accounts? What good are banks if no-one takes loans? Mr. James, North Leeward needs deliverance in ways in which the ULP have taken away from the people. I am not surprised that you continue to be so out of touch with North Leeward, after all you don’t even live there.

BYE NORTH LEEWARD!

I guess this is where the bandwagon stops and I get kicked off for opening your eyes to reality.

Troy Prince

Concerned North Leeward Resident

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

2 replies on “Allow me on the N. Leeward bank bandwagon”

  1. Mr. Prince, your article is an eye opener that folks examine very carefully. If the farmers and fisher folks can utilize the services of the bank, then that ok. I also believe the services of Western Union and Money gram is very important as you stated in the article.

    Don’t forget many agricultural lands were destroyed by the stone quarry issue. Farmers are out of their financing pool. This is a very good debate for the next election so that the constituency cannot be lost by 1 vote.

    Why not put your hat and boots on the ground to defeat Mr. James.

    Banks are not there to service people, but rather to steal money from them. Will it offer farmers and fisher folks money to improve their business ventures? I don’t think so!

    You can organize the farmers to help each other cultivate the crops and animals they need to put food on their table. In the old days, food was used to feed helpers who visited each farmer’s property to help. This system can still be used, and farmers won’t have to go to the bank to get the funds to perform such a task.

    The banks are there to serve the government by collecting taxes (probably), and to collect money for utilities bills. As you pointed out, that’s all it’s there for.

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