REMITTANCE fees are too high in the Caribbean, says economist Marla Dukharan.
“Remittance fees in the Caribbean are nearly double those of Central America, which is also another heavily dependent region on remittances. The average cost of remittances in the region is 8.9 per cent of the transaction and it can get as high as 11 per cent,” she said yesterday.
Speaking as spokesperson for the Caribbean Settlement Network at the Caribbean Information Communications Technology Collaboration Forum at the Hilton Trinidad in Port of Spain Dukharan called for the public and private sectors in the region to work together to have better internet infrastructure to facilitate wireless cash transfers with ease.
“The region spends between US$777 million and US$1.4 billion per year in banking fees for Caribbean remittances. Could you imagine if this US$1.4 billion were in the hands of the people who needed it the most?” she asked.
Removal of restrictions
Dukharan, who is also chief economist at Bitt Inc, pointed to an app developed by the Caribbean Settlement Network which allows users to do wireless cash transfers without being charged fees imposed by money transfer agencies.
“That’s why governments and central banks need to also come up with a solution on how to make the app from the Caribbean Settlement Network feasible in the region and also improve digital connectivity,” Dukharan said.
She noted, however, that the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas under Article 40 dealt with the removal of restrictions on movement of capital and currency transactions.
And governments have silently promised to provide a proper functioning of the Caribbean Single Market Economy (CSME), she added.
Dukharan said the Caribbean Settlement Network, along with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, will be meeting with the Caricom Heads of Government soon to discuss the implementation of the app which facilitates the use of digital currency.
“If the Caricom Heads of Government do not support this move we have a coalition that is willing to go this route,” she said, adding that the Central Bank in the Bahamas and the Eastern Caribbean had already created networks of digital currency domestically.