The Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago withdrew from circulation the one hundred dollar bill that was in the country, and replaced it as legal tender on December 9, 2019 with a new one hundred dollar polymer banknote with improved security features.
The measure is part of the objectives listed in the Strategic Plan 2016 / 17-2020 / 21 of the Central Bank, which aims to improve the durability of banknotes, make them more difficult to counterfeit and easier to identify to the touch for people with problems Of vision. The old one hundred dollar bill had legal tender until December 31, 2019 and, since the announcement of the change, people went to the commercial banks to deposit their one hundred dollar bills on paper before their value was canceled.
An objective of this initiative was to identify any bad money in the system; In accordance with international best practices, depositors must declare the source of the funds before the money can be accepted. However, there has been protest over the comments of Karen Darbasie, president of the Bankers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT) and executive director of First Citizens, state bank, who said that “sou-sou” is mentioned as a source of the funds, the banks will not accept the deposit.
The sou-sou, or informal loan, is originally from West Africa, and consists of a rotating savings circle in which a group takes turns “throwing hands.” Through this method, each group member makes an agreed cash contribution to a common fund once during an assigned period, and in the end the total amount of the fund is paid to a group member. This strategy is repeated until each group member receives a payment.
Darbasie explained that although each bank may have its own policy on the subject – some say it depends on the amount – financial institutions “do not usually accept sou-sou money as a legitimate source of funds,” although they understand that it is part of local culture “It's not something we can independently validate,” he said. “We have the responsibility, as a bank, to ensure that the information put into the source of funds seems consistent with the historical behavior of the client and that it comes from a real source.” From a banking perspective, it is impossible for us to validate a sou-sou ”.
On Facebook, Tillah Willah was outraged by Darbasie's statement and how local media reported:
The media never fails with its lack of acknowledgment of anything African, so I'm not surprised at the description of sou-sou as ‘an informal, co-operative loan system… popular in Trinidad and Tobago and throughout the Caribbean.’
This empty and limited description dismisses the fact that this practice is a centuries old financial institution and can be found among West African populations and was brought to this part of the world through enslavement and has survived and thrived as a system of co-operative economics for African people for whom the banking system was not set up and systematically excluded until well into the 70s.
The media never fails with its lack of recognition of something African, so I am not surprised by the description of sou-sou as ‘an informal system of cooperative loans… popular in Trinidad and Tobago and throughout the Caribbean.’
This empty and limited description discards the fact that this is a centennial practice of financial institutions and can be found among the populations of West Africa and was brought to this part of the world through slavery and has survived and prospered as a system. of cooperative economy for the African people for whom the banking system was not established and systematically excluded until well into the 70s.
He also threw some on the origins of the practice:
Esusu is linguistically associated with Ibo, Yoruba, Twi and the system is culturally embedded across West Africa. It ties to the Southern African philosophy of Ubuntu – I am because You Are.
Actually this is just one example of ways that people who are not served or deliberately excluded by colonial and neocolonial capitalist institutions have been able to thrive legally.
It's not just about the money. It's about collective responsibility, a community being accountable for everyone's mobility.
Without sou-sou my mother would not have been able to buy a house at age 30, nor indeed my great grandmother who was born just after Emancipation and was able to buy a house at the turn of the 20th century in Grenada.
Esusu is linguistically associated with ibo, yoruba, twi and the system is culturally rooted throughout West Africa. It is linked to Ubuntu's South African philosophy – I am because You are.
In fact, it is just an example of how those who are not taken care of or are deliberately excluded by colonial and neocolonial capitalist institutions have been able to thrive legally.
It's not just about money. It is about collective responsibility, a community that is responsible for everyone's mobility.
Without sou-sou, my mother could not have bought a house at age 30, nor could my great-grandmother who was born just after Emancipation and was able to buy a house at the beginning of the 20th century in Granada.
Tillah Willah said that on a trip to Ghana he saw “locally owned cooperative banks offering a sou-sou banking arrangement”:
There is now an esusu app and countless ways that sousou has embraced digital banking. But in Trinidad, it's informal, illegitimate and not valuable because it's something that working class black people do. With countless examples around the world of banks being bailed out by tax payers, with corporate entities making you all but wine for a $ 500 check to support poverty alleviation, what moral authority does any bank have to say what is legitimate and what is not?
Now there is an application of esusu and innumerable ways in which sousou has reached digital banking. But in Trinidad, it is informal, illegitimate and worthless because it is something that blacks in the working class do. With countless examples around the world of banks that taxpayers are rescuing, with corporate entities that do everything but wine for a $ 500 check to support poverty alleviation, what moral authority does a bank have to say what is legitimate and what do not?
Other social media users agreed. Jonathan Bhagan recalled a high school teacher who involved his class in a “sou-sou” as a practical lesson of local culture and said:
The outright refusal of banks to accept Sou Sou as a source of funds stinks of elitism. A sensitive policy approach would be to put a cap on ‘Sou Sou’ funds (…)
Our banking system should seek to cherish and preserve our culture rather than condemn it.
The outright rejection of banks to accept sou sou as a source of funds smells of elitism. A sensible political approach would be to put a cap on the funds of ‘sou sou’ (…)
Our banking system should try to appreciate and preserve our culture instead of condemning it.
On Facebook, user Lisa-Marie Griffith repeated this feeling:
This country is a damn plantation. Policies which do not take context into consideration. Who is the government serving?
This country is a damn plantation. Policies that do not take into account the context. Who does the government serve?
Gerelle Forbes added:
A few months ago someone said how come black ppl doh have their own banks (we had (just) seen the Muslim credit union) I said we do, it’s called a sou sou.
Things that effing irking me is how black people's history always start (s) at slavery. If u speak anything before that or try to apply the tools and methods our ancestors lived on… you are demonized for it.
A few months ago someone said how blacks have their own banks (we just saw the Muslim credit union).
What bothers me is that the history of blacks always begins with slavery. If you talk about something before that or try to apply the tools and methods our ancestors lived with … they demonize you.
BATT has not said anything else on the subject.