House asks BOH to postpone departure from territory
A copy of the House resolution calling for a delay in the departure of the local branch of Bank of Hawaii will be transmitted to BOH vice president and district manager Hobbs Lowson.
This is after the resolution was read and gained favorable approval in the Fono's lower chamber yesterday during the House regular session.
Bank of Hawaii announced on Nov. 30, 2012 that it will be closing the doors of its local branch on March 15, 2013.
The resolution calls for the postponement of the bank's closure for an additional three months, "to allow for its patrons to make adequate and necessary arrangements for the transferring of their accounts and attaining banking at alternate institutions."
Bank of Hawaii is already using the media to inform its customers of its upcoming closure in March, encouraging all BOH customers to either transfer their accounts to other financial institutions or to BoH in Hawai’i. Account holders who fail to do so at the time of the bank's closure will be mailed a check for the balance of their account.
Samoa News notes that BoH personal accounts are easily transferred to Hawai’i — just ask a teller for the form and you will be helped right away. However, businesses that wish to transfer their accounts is much more complicated and involves applying for a Hawai’i business license. For details, it would be best to ask at one of the local BoH branches in Tafuna or Fagatogo.
According to the resolution, Bank of Hawaii opened its doors to the American Samoa community in 1969 and "has served its people throughout the years, providing excellent banking service to the Territory."
"For several decades, Bank of Hawaii has contributed much to the Territory's economic growth and its presence has made it a fixture in the people's everyday lives. Their arrival to the islands, more than 40 years ago, was a welcomed event and has become part of American Samoa history."
Bank of Hawaii is the largest financial institution in American Samoa, serving thousands of patrons. In a statement from BOH, all accounts and banking activities have to be closed by February 15, 2013, and operations will officially cease exactly a month later.
"With only two major banks operating in the islands, the abrupt departure and the limited time frame given to the public to act has caused much concern and dismay, due to the extreme difficulty in finding alternative banking," the resolution states.
"The community would appreciate and benefit from a delay in the bank's untimely exit so as to allow for the proper closing of their accounts and transferring of banking to substitute financial institutions. It would also provide more time for the Bank and the leaders of the territory to discuss alternatives and provide for a smoother transition in the banking needs of the people."