As a small boy, I grew up knowing that my single parent mother was in a sou sou. Many decades later I have lived to read that the current governor of the Central Bank was surprised to learn of the extent of the practice of sou sou.
The czars of banking regulations have turned their backs on sou sou citizens, sadly unaware of what a forbidding place banks have become under the weight of overkill money laundering regulations.
A person was recently harassed by an arm of a bank to provide additional, detailed personal information concerning ownership of ten shares in the bank, despite the fact that the bank had gifted the shares. This citizen had accepted an invitation from the bank to be part of a bank-led focus group and was given the shares as a token of appreciation. But then the same bank’s compliance department pounced on its own customer, who it had thought worthy enough to assist.
The harassment of citizens, whose dealing with the banks is on such a relatively small scale, is frequent. Ask the pan tuners and entertainers who, when the borders were open, earned foreign exchange and went into the bank in a short pants to deposit or change it.
Further, documents now required and appointments needed to open a bank account are prohibitory and discriminatory.
Relieving banking stress is mostly in the hands of the regulators. They are out of touch with the barriers keeping ordinary people out of the banking system, many of whom saw their parents saving a little money with a savings book. The jacket and tie or business suit and matching masks blur sight of and clog empathy for ordinary citizens.
The majority of the political and public official establishment are in that clogged condition. So are the validating elites and their satellites, who consume a billion dollars worth of imported breakfast cereal—about which the minister of trade complained in the Budget debate last week. Like she just wake up from being part of the system that facilitated the squandering of foreign exchange about which she now complains.
The country is divided by its ability to have relationships with the banks. It is also divided by diet, just as its children are divided by devices. It is not cereal, but tania or arrowroot porridge that is eaten in homes where it is bake in the morning, dumpling at lunchtime and bake again in the evening.
This diet fills the belly against hunger pains with, in pre-Covid times, perhaps a piece of smoked fish or canned mackerel or herring or some bodi to go with that. Such is the diet of those who are not in the cereal league.
Let’s look some more at division of children by devices. The Budget debate was more disappointing than usual, as the politicians traded the expected blows about each other’s alleged greed and re-hashed events long past or exhausted in the recent General Election.
But I end this column with a suggestion about doing business differently in light of a useful exchange between two of the more articulate members of the House of Representatives, on the crucial issue of equal opportunity for all children to participate in online learning.
The minister of education, whose ministry must drive the fundamental changes in the socio-economic conditions of the thousands of children being left behind, assured us that ninety per cent of the children without electronic devices have now been provided with them.
Anita Haynes, Opposition MP for Tabaquite, disputed equity in the distribution between urban and rural areas. Equally importantly, she required accountability for the promise that the government would remedy the disadvantage at which children remain when there is no capacity in or near the home to make a connection between their device, when they get it, and the internet.
For the sake of the children, can these two MPs agree informally to keep in regular and non-combative touch—exchanging information about the roll out of the online learning programme and its glitches as they are discovered?
Progressive political conduct and effective representation of the people have to start somewhere.