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Story Highlights

  • Parliament began deliberations on a motion calling for the BoJ to prepare a report on banking fees.
  • Member of Parliament for South St. Catherine, Fitz Jackson, piloted the motion.
  • Mr. Jackson said there is growing concern within the public domain about the fees being charged by commercial banks.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday, November 12, began deliberations on a motion calling for the Bank of Jamaica (BoJ) to, within two months; prepare a report on the fees charged by commercial banks and credit unions, up to October 31.

Member of Parliament for South St. Catherine, Fitz Jackson, who piloted the motion, proposed that the Economy and Production Committee of Parliament begin discussions on the report within 45 days of the submission.

“This is not going to be a nine-day wonder…we cannot sit by and allow what has been happening to continue,” he said, in reference to the current level of fees charged to customers for a raft of banking transactions.

Mr. Jackson 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.

Mr. Jackson said at a time when economic growth is needed, it is “inconceivable” that any impediment to this should be allowed to “flourish” and stand in the way of the contributions anticipated from small and medium-sized businesses.

He said it is these enterprises that will help provide the level of production, employment and growth necessary, and the various charges will severely affect the cash flow and profitability of these businesses, and ultimately their sustainability.

“We have to give attention to anything that has the potential of strangling the possibilities of these small and micro businesses. We cannot stand by and allow these charges to exist at the level that they do, and the increases that occur over time,” he stressed.

Citing a 2010 report from the BoJ, Mr. Jackson said banks have profited significantly from these various charges, rather than the creation of new products.

“The impression that it (the report) gives, is that they all, whether by coincidence or not, come up with these high level of fees across the board,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Jackson pointed to the long-standing code of conduct proposed by the Government, which the banks are yet to agree on. This, he said, is despite the fact that the banks, some of which operate in other jurisdictions, have self-imposed codes of conduct, by which they abide.

The motion also calls for the BoJ to include in its report, the service charges applied by local banks, which operate in other jurisdictions.