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JAMAICA | Jackson withdraws banking bill - Will table again in two weeks

Featured South St. Catherine MP Fitz Jackson withdraws banking bill under frustration South St. Catherine MP Fitz Jackson withdraws banking bill under frustration
KINGSTON, May 10, 2017 - Member of Parliament for St Catherine South, Fitz Jackson yesterday withdrew the controversial bill to amend the Banking Services Act, complaining bitterly that despite opening debate on the bill from January, the legislative measure continues to suffer undue delays.

"Because nothing has been done from January until now, I have advised the leader of opposition business to advise the leader of government business that I am not prepared for this thing to be kicked down the road, week after week," he declared.

Jackson accused his colleagues in the House of failing to do anything to move the stranglehold of the fees and charges on bank customers.

“We just talked. We just yapped and we did nothing and they the (banks) continued daily,” he noted.

“We did nothing. We said what we wanted them to hear, but we refused do anything,” a visibly upset Jackson said as he informed the House of his wish to withdraw his Bill.

He said every lawmaker had an opportunity to propose an amendment to the bill, "but they haven't".

Jackson said that before withdrawing the Bill he wanted to recall its genesis in 2013, with a private member's motion while he sat on the Government side.

He noted that he had called for two specific things in the motion: (1) a study to be done by the Bank of Jamaica on the fees being charged by the banks in the region and selected international markets; and (2) the motion to be referred to the Economy and Production Committee of the House for review.

He pointed out that the BOJ did its study and referred its report to the committee, chaired by current Minister of Industry, Commerce and Agriculture Karl Samuda.

He also commended Samuda's chairmanship of the committee, which he described as “very vigorous and energetic”.

However, he said that despite the effort of the committee, which made recommendations to the Cabinet, “regrettably, time passed between both parliaments and nothing happened”.

He said that with nothing happening after that, “out of a bit of frustration”, he had decided to take advantage of the provision in the Standing Orders for any member to table a private member's Bill.

“I sought to utilise that provision to bring effect to the recommendations of the committee that was ably presented by the chairman.

“So, Mr Speaker, it is on record that we verbally expressed our support, but we failed to act and the consequences of that failure is that hundreds and thousands of Jamaicans suffer every day at the hands of the institutions in the fees that they have charged,” he said.

Jackson however sounded a warning that his withdrawal did not mean that the bill has been terminated.

"I will move shortly the motion for the withdrawal so that the bill before us will take on board those comments and recommendations made by various stakeholders so that we have a better bill," he told parliamentary members.

Jackson said the intention is that when the bill is tabled in about two weeks, lawmakers will go right to the conclusion stage.

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.

In the meantime, Jackson told parliament that he has 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, and would be
seeking a declaratory judgment from the courts that the fee constitutes a breach of the law.

Jackson said he wanted the fees deducted from depositor’s accounts to be returned. "People have suffered, their lives have been made miserable by the actions of these banks and so damages must come into play," he said.

He said he was not deterred that a number of banks have suspended dormant fees. "They did not say that they are terminating it, they say they are suspending it. It means they reserve the right to reintroduce it," Jackson said. They can do the honourable thing and terminate it."

  • Countries: Jamaica