Seven key proposals parliament will debate to protect 'defenceless depositors'
Jovan Johnson, Parliamentary Reporter
The Parliament is to debate 14 proposals contained in a bill which seeks to protect depositors incurring costly banking fees.
In opening the debate today, St Catherine southern MP Fitz Jackson lashed critics and fellow lawmakers for allowing what he calls the predatory actions of banks to charge exorbitant fees at the expense of "defenceless depositors".
The long-awaited debate on Jackson's private member's bill in the House of Representative calls for a tightening of the Bank of Jamaica regulation of the banking sector.
"Banking is like a utility, you can't do without it," said the opposition MP, insisting that lawmakers have a duty to protect Jamaican depositors.
He argued that inaction by the Parliament over many years to regulate banking fees has made them complicit in what he called the "skimming of depositors".
Under the proposed Banking Services Amendment Act, the Bank of Jamaica, which is the supervisor of banks, must issue a code of conduct on consumer-related matters.
That is among 14 proposals contained in the bill which the Parliament will debate and decide on.
However, banks are wary of any regulation that seeks to interfere with the free market concept.
See seven key proposals below:
1. Code of conduct for banks must include a minimum service package that will be a contract agreed between a bank and each customer.
2. Each customer be entitled to a minimum of 120 transactions every year at no charge.
3. Customers not be charged for any inquiry "of any sort and any medium" based on the contract.
4. Banks to be obligated to give at least 45 day's notice before changing fees and charges.
5. Banks to be barred from charging for the encashment of cheques.
6. Licensee shall provide customers with a fact sheet containing key contractual terms
7. Disclosure of related fees at ATMs or any other medium before the transactions is processed