Entrepreneurs complain of exaggerated time on opening of new bank accounts

Many have been expressing complaints over the current provision of banking services, on an individual basis, as well as that for entrepreneurs. The programme ‘Popolin’ discussed this situation to analyse the latest impositions that individuals and entities are facing.

In recent month because of the pandemic situation banks have closed down a number of branches and this has created great inconvenience, particularly to elderly clients. In addition, commercial enterprises have also been affected by services as stated by Abigail Mamo, CEO of the Chamber for Small and Medium-sized enterprises, because have been considerably lengthened by a number of months. In recent weeks others have experienced an increase in charges, including fees for the maintenance of bank accounts and others tied to cashing of cheques as well as for online transactions. Mamo maintained that although it is true that these changes were notified weeks beforehand but small and medium-sized enterprises are going through difficult times and therefore caution has to be exercised before imposing more financial burdens.

Regarding more stringent processes being applied by local banks, Fabio Axisa, who is the President of the Malta Institute of Accountants, maintained that at this particular moment the country is under scrutiny. He said that regulator and international banks have taken a certain attitude over the transactions of Maltese banks and although it is true that errors have been made, these are being emphasised too much and are exaggerated. He added that the country has been unable to find a common agenda to suit all parties and if attention has been drawn to shortcomings it is essential these be rectified. Axisa said that at this stage, the Government, the Opposition, accountants, bankers and enterprises and all those who form part of the link need to reveal the qualities of their procedures.

Karol Gabaretta, General Secretary of the Malta Bankers’ Association, explained that banks are a type of business that provides services for its clients in the best manner possible, but they also have to make a profit. He said that banks do not have a social aspect but have the primary intention of registering a profit for the benefit of their shareholders. He added that profit does not directly go to shareholders but banks have to retain a certain substantial amount to meet impositions placed on them by regulators.

Axisa explained that international regulators are aiming to lengthen procedures aimed at making these more stringent and therefore banks have to adopt certain procedures. On the other hand, Mamo maintained a common detailed list should be provided with the inclusion of stipulated timelines so that enterprises and local banks should operate accordingly so that new accounts needing to be opened are opened in a regular manner within a stipulated and reasonable period of time.