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JAMAICA | Gov't wants to Kill Fitz Jackson's Banking Fees Bill?

Featured  Member of Parliament for St Catherine South, Fitz Jackson says  Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Karl Samuda is trying to kill his bill whic seeks to regulare fees charged by banks to depositors. Member of Parliament for St Catherine South, Fitz Jackson says Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Karl Samuda is trying to kill his bill whic seeks to regulare fees charged by banks to depositors.
KINGSTON, February 7, 2018 - Another attempt by  St Catherine South Member of Parliament Fitz Jackson to pilot a bill through the Parliament seeking to amend the Banking Services Act in an effort regulate bank fees, was again thwarted by government lmembers who used their superior numbers on Tuesday to halt discussion on the bill.

Acting House leader Everald Warmington moved a motion that debate on the bill be suspended. However, the Opposition called for a divide resulting in a vote that saw 30 government members supporting the motion while 21 opposition legislators said 'no'. Eleven members were absent.

Jackson demanded that the Government complete debate on the bill however the House Leader said he would not be "bullied".

After heated a discussion Mr. Warmington gave the Government's commitment to complete deliberations on the bill at the next sitting of the Lower House.

However, two government members gave clear indications that the bill now before the House would end up on the scrap heap.

Fitz Jackson460Jackson rubbished  a claim by Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte that the Attorney General's Chambers could not express an opinion on the bill because it lacked a policy framework in response to a charge by Jackson that her department did not provide assistance in reviewing the bill.

Jackson informed that the bill was being introduced as a Private Members Motion and not the government hence no policy direction was necessary.

In opening debate on the bill, Jackson said he submitted the bill to the Attorney General's Department to get its stamp of approval, but this was not forthcoming. "It come to your office for you to sign off on it and up until now, for three months ... . I asked if it was attended to, and the answer is 'no'. I asked if I should go ahead in the House and I was told I can.

"I am saying this out of deep disappointment and frustration because I can't fathom how a matter like this, after being in this House for so long, found such difficulty. What we are talking about? It's the people's money, that's what this bill is all about," said Jackson.

He appealed to the House leader to treat the re-tabled bill with the same urgency as the Government does with critical pieces of proposed laws.

Leader of the Opposition Dr Peter Phillips said the process being taken by the Government to address the urgent concerns in the bill could take years before new legislation comes to Parliament to regulate bank fees.

"In that three years and four years that he is asking us to wait, pensioners are going to find their savings disappear. The fee structure is going to continue to take away poor people's money.

The small business people is going to suck salt out of wooden spoon all because of a device, for some contrivance that is being developed to delay the passage of a good bill supported by you," said Phillips to Samuda, who had earlier advised that the provisions in the bill were being incorporated into a policy that would later be crafted into law.

Jackson accused Samuda, of being reluctant to sanction the banks, and of trying to delay passage of the Bill.

Samuda told the House that following discussions between the Bank of Jamaica and the banks a settlement of the issue was being sought.

Jackson had told his parliamentary colleagues that he had retained a team of lawyers to take out a lawsuit against financial institutions that extract fees from dormant accounts.

He said the dormancy fee constituted a breach of the current banking law. 

Jackson's bill arose out of a select committee of the House of Representatives on the economy and production in 2015, which felt that the banks were going much too far in increasing their fees.

The committee's discussions on the issue were fuelled by widespread public disapproval of increasing banking fees and closure of dormant accounts by the commercial banks in 2015.

Jackson had introduced his Private Members Bill which he  withdrew  May last year, after it spent six months on the table of the House, and promised to re-table it within two-three weeks, complaining of a lack of interest to pass it. He re-tabled it in August last year.

Jackson said he had retained a team of lawyers to take out a lawsuit against financial institutions that extract fees from dormant accounts.

He said the dormancy fee constituted a breach of the current banking law. 

Jackson said he is seeking a declaratory judgment from the courts that the fee constitutes a breach of the law.

He also wants the fees deducted from people's accounts to be returned to depositors.

"People have suffered, their lives have been made miserable by the actions of these banks and so damages must come into play."

 

Last modified onThursday, 08 February 2018 03:16
  • Countries: Jamaica

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