Buncamper wants explanation why only one bank selected for food program

Claudius A. Buncamper BSc Member of Parliament of Sint Maarten


PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Faction Leader of the United St. Maarten (US) party MP Claudius Buncamper on Monday questioned why only the swipe machines of one bank on St. Maarten was chosen for the food voucher program.

The MP stated that it was brought to his attention that food retailers who wanted to participate in the program could not do so because they did not have a swipe machine from the bank chosen to work with the program.

Buncamper said while he has no issue with the bank in question which has been a good corporate citizen on St. Maarten, he does not fully understand why only one bank is participating. He stressed that the issue is not the bank, but the apparent exclusivity given to the bank which has directly eliminated certain retailers from generating some income via the food program.

The MP explained that in order to participate, retailers would have to open an entire new account at the bank, something they might not necessarily want to do. If the retailer already has a swipe machine from another bank, he asked, why can’t that machine be used?

“The owners of these businesses have to try and get an appointment with the bank to open the new account. I say try because getting the appointment could take weeks if not longer. Once they get the appointment and go through the process of opening the account and waiting for the machine to be installed, the food program is over. That is how long it takes. I think this is a bit unfair if they already have a machine from another bank,” the MP said.

He further explained that retailers that are not part of the program have reportedly seen a significant drop in sales due to a loss of customers, in particular small mom and pops stores. He called on government or the St. Maarten Development Fund to provide an explanation about the non-inclusion of other banks.

“As of now we know that this latest round of the food program is scheduled to come to an end on September 30. We do not know if it will continue. If it does, perhaps the government can see to it that the machines from all banks are included. We still have a few days left in September, maybe something can be worked out still with other banks. I am sure that other banks would like their clients to participate as well,” he concluded.