Plans to close the only bank on the island of La Graciosa have come under fire both from locals living there and from the president of the Popular Party of Lanzarote, Astrid Perez. Ms Perez is taking the step of contacting the board of Bankia, the recently nationalized Spanish bank, to ask them to reconsider this particular closure. Bankia took over the locally based bank Caja de Canarias after it was revealed that the latter had unsustainable debts.
Several other branches of Bankia on Lanzarote are also due to shut their doors, as the ailing institution looks to save money by reducing the number of offices it operates throughout the Canaries. But whilst residents of Lanzarote will be able to find other branches or cashpoints, those living on La Graciosa will have no alternative but to get on the ferry and visit the neighbouring island to carry out financial transactions.
Ms Perez stated that she understood the need for considerable restructuring of this financial institution as a result of the crisis in Spain, but wished also to emphasise the imperative need for at least one branch to remain in operation on La Graciosa. The eighth Canarian island has a population of approximately six hundred people, which is augmented in the summer months by tourists and families who have holiday homes there as well. She underlined the fact that very few of the permanent population on the island has access to the internet or on-line banking facilities.
Local residents intend to voice their own disagreement with the proposed move by holding demonstrations outside the office of the Graciosa branch on Thursday this week. They are hoping to illustrate how vital the service is, not just for those who live on the island, but also for the 270,000 visitors who have made their way over to Caleta del Sebo during the last year whilst on holiday in Lanzarote.
Across the Canarian archipelago, some 54 branches will be closed in the next few months, with only the municipalities of Haria and Tinajo on Lanzarote not affected by the loss of their branches.