‘Cash only’ Abacos spike concerns for businesses

‘Cash only’ Abacos spike concerns for businesses
Aerial shot of destruction in Abaco in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The lack of banking services on Abaco post Dorian could prove to be a ‘dangerous situation’ for existing businesses on the hurricane-ravaged island, according to one local businessman.

Dr Keenan Larry Carroll, owner and operator of the Sandpiper Inn told Eyewitness News: “The banking situation is terrible. It’s an all cash society right now. There are no banks. Commonwealth is opening an office in Maxwell’s.

“If you are not a Commonwealth Bank customer you are still stuck because the other banks aren’t doing anything yet. That becomes a significant issue when you’re dealing with payroll and paying staff.”

Dr Carroll continued: “The banking situation is the most pressing problem for most of us especially for me and I imagine other businesses as well. You’re taking cash and this is where it becomes dangerous. The ATM’s they have if they are not attached to a physical bank can’t take cash. Until we get banking square away most of the businesses will be operating cash only.”

LaSonya Missick the Clearing Bank’s Association chairman recently admitted that banks are facing a challenge to determine the type of services they can offer on Abaco.

“We are still waiting to see how the restoration activities move forward. We do know that banking services are essential,” she said at the recent Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants’ Month conference.

“One of the things we have done is reached out to our clients and let them know the options they have across electronic and digital platforms.“We are looking to get more ATMs in Abaco at key locations in two to three weeks.”

Missick said: “Our initial thoughts are around putting in services that the island needs right now and not necessarily what it would need in two to three years when the entire community is hopefully restored and commerce is active again.”

She said banks are considering shared locations like mobile trailers in the short-term, adding banks are committed to long term rebuild efforts.

Carroll serves as the Bahamas Out Island Promotion Board’s (BOIPB) president, and his Sandpiper Inn located on the waterfront in Schooner Bay Village, South Abaco is back in business.

He noted tourism marketing efforts to inform the travel market that The Bahamas remains open for business.

“We have to work hard as a promotion board to let people know the other islands are open for business,” Carroll said.

“Sandpiper Inn is opened up as the power has now stabilized. The cuts aren’t as frequent or as long as they were. We have been able to get some people in, some relief workers and others. The reopening of Maxwell’s has really helped a lot with getting food. We’re one of really only two facilities still functioning in Abaco.”