Members of the T&T Association of Retired Persons Ltd (TTARP) are concerned about the deadline of December 31, which has been given for all persons to change over from the old $100 bill to the new polymer note.
Following reports of long lines at commercial banks yesterday as persons rushed to change their money, Geoffrey Lewis. a member of TTARP, questioned if and what concessions were being made for elderly persons 50 years and over.
Voicing alarm that their members formed part of the vulnerable groups in society and were now being made targets as this change is being implemented, Lewis said, “If a senior has a sizeable sum in their possession now, there’s a reason why they didn’t have it in the bank such as the convenience it affords them.”
He said some people also feel more secure having their money at home.
Lewis said, “If I go into the bank to change $9,000, then it means that I will be leaving the bank with the equivalent amount in the new notes. We now have to think about people who will be scoping out banks and the old people coming and going into the banks.”
Lewis is also asking that washroom facilities and adequate seating accommodations be put in place for elderly persons using canes, crutches, walkers and wheelchairs who will need special assistance, and questioned if such measures were in place to ensure they had a problem-free banking experience.
Additionally, he questioned, “There are people who have gone away, perhaps for the next three months to spend time with their family abroad…what is going to happen to them? Will they return to be told that their money is no longer valid?”
Calling for an extension of the deadline for these persons, Lewis said, “If the deadline is December, it should be a lot easier come January, to go and do this.”
Referring to the announcement by National Security Minister Stuart Young last week Thursday that the changes formed part of Government’s thrust to stem corruption and clamp down on what they termed the black economy - Lewis said, “This is something that would have taken place quite a while ago because there is no way how many containers of money was going to reach down in two days from England, and it also had to be printed so that would have taken a while.”
Lewis said it was unclear how much thinking actually went into the initiative.
However, he commended the authorities for their foresight in implementing stricter security features and measures to reduce money laundering and the funding of criminal activities.
TTPS: Patrols increased around banks
As questions were raised about increased security, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) confirmed it had increased mobile and foot patrols in the vicinity of banking locations as people go about changing their old $100 bills.
In a release, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said Emergency Response Task Force and Divisional Patrols are taking place across the nine policing divisions, “To provide greater levels of safety and comfort, as people go about transacting their business at commercial banks.”
His disclosure followed concerns by members of the public about long lines outside banks, where customers are seeking to turn in the old bills for the new $100 notes.
The CoP said, “The TTPS is aware that criminal elements may want to target unsuspecting persons in the lines at banks,” and that police officers are out in full force to safeguard members of the public, as they go about transacting their business.
In a related matter, quick work by officers of the Four Roads Police Station, Diego Martin resulted in the arrest of a 19-year-old man of La Resource Road, Laventille, minutes after her robbed a woman who was on her way to the bank.
The victim told police she was walking along the walkover of the Diego Martin highway around 11:15 am, when the man grabbed her bag which contained a quantity of cash before he fled on foot, along Cuthbert Circular.
A report was made and officers on patrol subsequently apprehended the suspect a short distance away.
The bag with the cash was also recovered from his possession.
Reporter: Anna-Lisa Paul