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Central Bank withdraws PD No. 7 after negotiations with banks

GeneralCentral Bank withdraws PD No. 7 after negotiations with banks

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. May 23, 2024

On April 30, the Central Bank of Belize (CBB) announced that, starting June 1st, new rules around bank fees will take effect, following discussions with several major banks.

This adjustment marks a shift from the previous stance under Practice Direction No. 7 (PD No. 7) issued in December 2023, which aimed to limit certain banking fees and penalties.

The initial policy faced resistance, particularly from Belize Bank Limited, which legally challenged the direction, as Claim No. 836 of 2023 – the Belize Bank Limited v Central Bank of Belize, citing concerns over its validity.

However, after further talks and negotiations, the CBB has decided to withdraw PD No. 7, agreeing to more customer-friendly fee regulations.

These include:

a) No fee is payable for accounts closed within one to three months of opening.

b) No fee is payable for the issuance of letters for the purpose of salary release or cancellation.

c) Fees for withdrawals at ATMs of the same institution from which the funds are being withdrawn are to be capped at $0.25.

d) The fee for early pay-out of residential mortgages will be reduced from six to three months on new loan agreements from 1 June 2024, that fee being the interest which would have been payable over the three-month period.

e) No fee is payable for transfers between accounts amongst the bank’s own networks.

f) No fee is payable for loan payment waivers.

Starting October 1, there will also be no fees for maintaining savings accounts, except for dormant ones.

In a press release, the CBB explained the aim behind their decision which they attribute “to promoting transparent and fair banking practices toward the stability of the monetary and financial systems for the wellbeing of Belize.”

In an interview with reporters following the announcement, Godfrey Smith, the attorney representing Belize Bank Limited, had expressed the bank’s comfort with the new regulations.

He stated that the revisions were the result of productive negotiations, while also acknowledging the effort to align the interests of the banks with regulatory objectives.

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