CASTRIES, St. Lucia--In light of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, which has touched more than twenty countries in the region, and the significant and unprecedented threat it poses to the economy, the Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB) says it will “no longer be business as usual for the foreseeable future.”
Given the pivotal role of banks and other financial institutions in the macroeconomic stabilisation of every economy, the St. Lucia-based CAB has made several recommendations to its member banks, including review of business continuity plans, assessment of work-from-home capabilities and increased sensitisation of online banking, ATM and point-of-sale services.
“The time for preparation and other planning is now. It is imperative that consideration be given to measures that may be implemented to address the immediate to short-term impact of the pandemic,” stated the advice from CAB, which represents 56 banks and financial institutions in the Caribbean.
“Further, the long-term effects of COVID-19, in particular the impact on the income earnings of customers, may warrant policy level changes within your institution.”
CAB noted that it is now well established that work-from-home (WFH) capabilities are of significant importance in ensuring business continuity, and tests should be conducted to assess the level of WFH capabilities within banking organisations in expectation of temporary nation-wide lock downs.
With the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasising the importance of social distancing to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic, the association said that having customers utilise avenues that reduce the level of interaction with employees and others, reduces the level of virus transmission and is in the best interest of the wider population.
COVID-19 has been confirmed in several Caribbean countries, including: Aruba, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curaçao, the Dominican Republic, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Jamaica, Martinique, St. Barths, St. Lucia, Dutch St. Maarten, French St. Martin, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela. ~ Caribbean360 ~