Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA) Executive Director John Kapito says money is being stolen in form of high bank service charges and this will discourage Malawians from opening bank accounts.
Kapito said this in a statement on Saturday after banks announced the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) on most of their services which will have a huge negative cost on consumers’ deposits as they will be required to pay various high transaction charges and other bank charges.
Kapito said the announcement is a friendly warning to all consumers that their money is unsafe with the Banks as it will be subjected to a number of deductions in the form of bank charges and taxes.
“Our appeal to Consumers is to immediately make a decision between your deposits being stolen by the banks or keeping it safe somewhere else otherwise one day you will wake up and discover that your money has been stolen by the banks
“We are aware that most of the Banks recently increased their transaction charges and bank service charges and we assumed the VAT transaction charges were part of those increased bank charges therefore, the reintroduction of new transaction charges in the name of VAT is unacceptable and unjustifiable,” he said
He noted that consumers have complained consistently over time regarding the high bank charges and a number transaction costs.
He said the charges have had an effect on financial inclusion as most of the Consumers started to close their bank accounts and currently the number of Malawian Consumers with bank accounts is still low because of the unnecessary bank charges.
He went on to say that the high bank charges and transaction costs have affected the Financial Literacy Program which was centered on educating Consumers on benefits of saving money with the banks.
He said consumers were continuously informed on how unsafe it was to keep money within their homes and that saving money with the Bank has long term benefits but it is now surprising that savings will be “stolen” through high bank charges and transaction costs in the name of VAT.
Kapito then claimed that consumers will only wake up one day and only to find that their money in the bank has been wiped-out.
“This is a threat to financial inclusion program and our appeal to Consumers is to immediately consider withdrawing their money from the Banks and keep the money safe in their homes, with the current situation it is dangerous for anybody to assume that there will be safety of your money at the Bank with the new thief that has now become part of the Bank,” he said.