“Premature and inappropriate” – Finance Minister on Scotiabank’s sale announcement

Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh
Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh has expressed his dissatisfaction with the decision by Scotiabank Guyana to announce the sale of its local operations.

Minister Singh, in a statement today, described the move by the Bank as “premature and inappropriate.”

The Finance Minister said any such transaction is subject to a specified regulatory process.

He said Government finds it unfortunate that the announcement was made, since Section 12 of the Financial Institutions Act stipulates that no financial institution may transfer the entire or a substantial part of its operations without prior approval from the Bank of Guyana.

“Considering that the Laws of Guyana require this process, we consider it premature to announce a transaction of this nature, particularly given that the regulatory process to consider the request for any such transaction is yet to be initiated, much less to be concluded,” the Minister pointed out.

“It is the intention of the Government of Guyana and indeed, it is the intention of the regulator and the supervisor of the financial sector, that is to say the Central Bank, to ensure that all applicable laws are complied with in the fullest and in particular, to ensure that appropriate processes of due diligence and other processes required under the laws of Guyana are initiated and concluded before any such transaction can be proceeded with,” the Finance Minister said.

“I wish to reiterate that we consider the announcement of this transaction to be both premature and inappropriate at the current time.”

Dr. Singh stressed that both Government and the Regulatory at the Bank of Guyana remain committed to ensuring there is a strong, vibrant, dynamic and growing financial sector.

“Particularly at this juncture at our economic history it is important the financial sector is adequately equipped to meet the needs of our evolving economy which is currently going through dramatic changes. In this regard, our primary objective remains the preservation of a strong and stable financial sector and one that is dynamic and competitive and can meet the needs of our economy,” Dr. Singh underscored.

Additionally, Dr. Singh emphasised that the government remains firmly committed to ensuring that the interests of all depositors and customers of Scotiabank, and the broader financial sector, are safeguarded at all times.

Scotiabank Guyana today announced the sale of its operations to First Citizens Bank Limited (“First Citizens”), a Trinidadian banking institute. In a statement, the banking institution said “until regulatory approvals are obtained and the transaction closes, Scotiabank’s operations in Guyana will continue as usual.”

This is not the first time Scotiabank attempted to sell its Guyana operations. In 2019, the bank’s attempts to sell its operations in Guyana to Republic Financial Holdings Limited came to a screeching halt when the Bank of Guyana denied its application.