Deliberations on Bank Fees to Begin January 28

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Story Highlights

  • The Economy and Production Committee of Parliament is to begin discussions on the Bank of Jamaica’s (BoJ) interim report regarding banking fees.
  • Committee 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.
  • The BoJ, the Bankers Association, Fair Trading Commission, PSOJ, Consumer Affairs Commission, and a rep from the Ministry of Finance will be invited to the meeting.

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 Tuesday, 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.

At its meeting in the House of Representatives on January 14, committee 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.

Chairman of the committee, Karl Samuda, said the BoJ, through a letter, explained that while it has 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.

“They are asking for 90 days to complete and present a final report….(The BoJ is requesting additional) time to obtain data, resolve data integrity issues, produce a report on credit unions and complete comparatives with affiliated regional and international banks,” Mr. Samuda said.

Committee member and State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Julian Robinson, suggested however, that “given how critical this issue is to national development,”  that 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.

Mr. Samuda agreed with this proposal, noting that “we are going ahead. They (will) continue to collect information and feed it to us, but we are proceeding”.

It is expected that 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 will be invited to the January 28 meeting.

In piloting the motion, Mr. Jackson had said there is 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.

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