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The National Commercial Bank

The National Commercial Bank (NCB) was unveiled on July 1, 1970 about four months after the Black Power uprising exploded in Port of Spain. The State of Emergency was still in effect and would not be lifted until November 20. NCB took up the challenge mandated by the then Prime Minister Williams. He mandated the bank to grow, to fly the flag of nationalism.

NCB took up the challenge with enthusiasm, growing into 18 branches with over 900 employees. But 23 years after the historical establishment of this locally-owned government bank, some of the gleam had worn off. In a 1992 annual report, the Inspector of Banks deemed NCB financially unsound and its shares almost worthless.

To avoid a run on the Bank, the Central Bank stepped in, and on September 12, 1993, it rescued NCB by merging it with Worker’s Bank and the Trinidad Co-operative Bank, thereby called First Citizens. The storm that had burst in 1993 had been gathering since the eighties, when unemployment climbed.

While NCB had numerous accounts, it did not attract enough of the type of investors who could generate profits for the Bank. NCB resorted to borrowing from the Central Bank, and the Central Bank insisted that all funds borrowed be repaid by February 28, 1992 which served to bring the Bank’s liquidity pressures to a head.

On April19, 1989 the NCB Bank closed after 18 years after the Bank’s opening. Workers were traumatised by the crash of the Bank, and neither depositors nor employees could make withdrawals from the Bank.

 

 

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