Talks on Jamaican bank fees
KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Economy and Production Committee of Parliament is to begin discussions on the Bank of Jamaica’s (BoJ) interim report regarding the fees charged by commercial banks and credit unions on January 28.
The report is as a result of a motion moved by Member of Parliament for South St Catherine, Fitz Jackson, in November last year, calling for the matter of bank fees to be fully investigated, and for the BoJ, within two months, to submit a report to the committee on the charges up to October 31, 2013.
Jackson had said there was a growing concern within the public domain about the fees being charged by commercial banks and building societies for services.
“These fees have severe impact on just about every individual…low income earners, pensioners, and our marginal income earners… and above all, these charges have a dampening effect on small and micro businesses in the country,” he argued.
When the committee met on Tuesday members decided to proceed with deliberations on the initial report instead of awaiting a full report for which the BoJ had requested more time to prepare.
Committee chairman, Karl Samuda, said the BoJ, through a letter, explained that while it had prepared an interim document, it had attempted to produce a full report, including a survey. However, there were difficulties with compliance among the institutions, which was about 50 per cent.
Samuda told members that the BoJ is asking for 90 days to complete and present a final report. He said it was also seeking additional time to obtain data, resolve data integrity issues, produce a report on credit unions and complete comparatives with affiliated regional and international banks.
But junior Minister for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Julian Robinson, suggested that “given how critical this issue is to national development,” the BoJ be requested to get back to the committee within 30 days with its additional findings.
“The country, I think, is awaiting some action whether we can take any action or not, but this is such a pressing issue for all Jamaicans, who have to bank. ….I’d ask them (to) come back to us in 30 days. This is a critical national priority and then we can make an assessment after 30 days. I don’t want this thing dragged out indefinitely and we lose interest in it,” he said.
Samuda agreed with the proposal, noting that “we are going ahead. They (will) continue to collect information and feed it to us, but we are proceeding”.
Apart from the BoJ, the Bankers Association, Fair Trading Commission, Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), Consumer Affairs Commission, and a representative from the Ministry of Finance are expected to attend the January 28 meeting. (CMC)