• Last Update 2021-06-14 19:23:00

Central Bank orders all banks to remain open during lockdown

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The Central Bank (CB), a few hours after commercial banks said on Monday they would be closed during the travel restrictions (lockdown) till June 14, directed all banks to remain open for essential banking services.

On Monday, banks said they would be closed during the week but this was followed by a CB statement later in the day directing that bank branches should remain open for essential banking services and in conformity with health guidelines. It was unclear as to the confusion because commercial banks primarily would have expected to take the decision to close in consultation with the CB.

The CB, in a statement, said that having observed the recent communications/notices published by licensed banks on provision of banking services, it has reiterated the need for all licensed banks to make necessary arrangements to provide uninterrupted banking services, complying with the following:

  1. Bank branches shall only be opened to provide essential services such as trade financing, treasury operations, clearing activities, payment of pensions/salaries, responding to other urgent requests/inquiries of customers, etc.;
  2. Considering the staff health and safety when deploying them to serve in branches, the number of staff permitted to report to work in branches shall be limited to 15 per branch;
  3. Staff shall report to work on a roster basis, or the branches shall only be opened on specified days taking note of specific requirements of customers of each branch ;
  4. Branch Managers shall obtain prior approval of the nearest Police Station for the travel of the relevant staff; Further, licensed banks are required to:

• Publish notices informing the general public how essential banking services can be obtained;

• Take adequate measures to keep the banks’ customers informed of the contact details for obtaining essential banking services during this challenging period, including display of contact details of branch staff at the branch and hot-line numbers considering the various preferred modes of transacting;

• Ensure that the customer inquiries are answered and resolved expeditiously; and

• Continue to facilitate banking services through electronic / digital channels, including over 6,100 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Cash Deposit Machines and mobile banking vehicles. The CB requested the public to extend their cooperation to licensed banks by using online payment services/instruments for their day-to-day transactions to the extent possible and to contact the relevant bank branches only for obtaining the essential banking services during this challenging time.

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