So says St Michael East Member of Parliament Trevor Prescod, who told a group of less fortunate families at the weekend that while the poor continued to be rejected by commercial banks, there were efforts by special interest groups to stymie the work of credit unions, the only financial houses that were friendly to the poor.
These conditions, he said, are similar to oppressive circumstances faced by Barbadians in the past that give birth to credit unions.
“We are seeing the rebirth of circumstances that we saw in the first half of the last century,” he said Saturday in a meeting room of the City of Bridgetown Cooperative Credit Union where schooling assistance vouchers and Christmas shopping coupons were handed out to over 200 school-aged children and their parents.
This was organized by the Eden Lodge Youth Charitable Trust that receives support in the annual effort by COB, the Sandy Lane Trust, Courts Barbados, and a number of other businesses.
Addressing the gathering, Prescod bemoaned what he saw as unfavourable conditions faced by disadvantaged persons in society when they sought to apply for bank loans, despite having met all the lending requirements of these financial institutions.
“The commercial banks in this country make it very difficult for you when you walk through the doors,” he said, adding, “just by physical appearance sometimes people that look just like us don’t feel that you are the appropriate persons to come and borrow the money, and they ask you all kind of questions, they stipulate all kinds of conditions that before you spend the first five minutes you know that the answer is ‘no’.”
Against the backdrop of attempts by Government to better regulate credit unions, Prescod warned of attempts by persons with other interests to reshape the credit union movement.
“They want to bring laws, they want to put restrictions on it. They want to compare it to the commercial banks, because . . . credit unions must not offer you the advantages that they now have, the flexibility, the lack of that kind of rigid approach to dealing with human beings,” the Opposition Barbados Labour Party MP said.