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COVID's open/close cycle just 'too taxing'

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

A major Bahamian insurer yesterday said its office will function with a "skeleton crew" despite being granted permission to return because the COVID-19 opening/closing cycle is simply "too taxing".

Anton Saunders, RoyalStar Assurance's managing director, told Tribune Business that the property and casualty underwriter will continue to perform the vast majority of its functions remotely since the continued lockdown uncertainty was "not good for us as businessmen".

He added: "We're happy the Competent Authority has allowed us to open, but we're going to work remotely. However, going back and forth and management having to make decisions back and forth, we can't have this open/close, open/close, open/close. It's too taxing on the staff and clients.

"We have developed a very good remote working mechanism with our staff and clients. We cannot, unfortunately, continue this open/close, open/close, open/close is not good for RoyalStar's staff. We'll treat it as if we're still closed and will have a skeleton crew in office.

"We'll deal remotely with the functions we can, and have a skeleton crew in office to deal with the issues we can't deal with remotely at this time."

Mr Saunders spoke out after the Government permitted banks, insurance companies and the latter's agents and brokers to open from 8am to 5pm as necessary with effect from yesterday to help Bahamians ready for a possible storm. This go-ahead was granted until further notice.

Gowon Bowe, Fidelity Bank (Bahamas) chief executive, told Tribune Business that despite the short notice granted by the Government all the BISX-listed institution's locations were open by 10am yesterday and only closed at 3pm. Bank of The Bahamas, too, was said to have opened yesterday, but all other commercial banks delayed until today.

Commonwealth Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank (Bahamas) and Scotiabank (Bahamas) all confirmed they will open as of today, with the latter two confirming that this will be effected from reduced locations and, in some cases, reduced hours.

"I think what is creating the anxiety and panic is the absence of a long-term plan that says how are we going to deal with things," Mr Bowe said of the reaction to the Prime Minister's now-reversed (for the moment at least) total lockdown of New Providence.

"There's going to be changes in the plan, and metrics, and we will have peaks and troughs. At Fidelity we took the position of coming up with what we thought was reasonable, and then approach the Authority to ensure it aligns with them. In the absence of clear guidelines, prudent and effective management will set it out for themselves and ensure customers and staff have a sense of normalcy."

The Fidelity chief, noting the short notice provided to banks of their re-opening, added: "The Government has to broaden its appreciation that if there's going to be any commerce, there's going to be a need for some banking facilities.

"That doesn't always come through clearly in the orders and decrees that come down. Even in the original announcement on Monday night, there are certain that must function and make and accept payments, such as hospitals and public pharmacies."

Comments

tribanon 3 years, 9 months ago

Bowe needs to keep calling it as he sees it. Good for him!

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proudloudandfnm 3 years, 9 months ago

I see our government has reopened our borders....

Smh.... Minnis has to go...

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