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Fireworks expected in Parliament in banking fees bill debate

Published:Monday | February 12, 2018 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter
Fitz Jackson
Everald Warmington

Members of the House of Representatives will today make a critical decision on whether to pass or reject the Banking Services Bill, which seeks to regulate bank fees in Jamaica.

The Lower House will have its final sitting today for the 2017-2018 legislative year, as the prorogation of Parliament takes effect tomorrow.

Last week, tempers flared when acting leader of government business in the House of Representatives, Everald Warmington, announced that debate on the bill would be suspended. His remarks drew the ire of Fitz Jackson, member of parliament for St Catherine South, who demanded that the bill be taken through all its stages. Jackson introduced the private member's bill last year, which has had several setbacks since it was first tabled for debate.

A motion for the suspension of the bill was put by Warmington last week, and opposition lawmakers called for a divide. When the votes were counted, the motion was carried, with 30 government legislators saying 'yes', compared with 21 opposition lawmakers dissenting.

Jackson had first introduced a resolution on bank fees from 2013, which was debated and referred to a joint select committee for deliberation.

Stakeholders from various financial institutions made presentations to the committee and a report was prepared with a raft of recommendations.

Lawmakers who participated in the debate on the bank fees resolution gave widespread support to the measure.




Below are Hansard records parliamentary comments on bank fees:

- In a debate on the Banking Services Act, 2014 (not the Jackson bill), then Opposition Spokesman on Finance Audley Shaw said: "I have concerns about bank charges - and, I mean, I had put it on the table; I had stated, as I did in my presentation in the Budget Debate, because, among the reasons I am concerned about it, is that we have seen that for every dollar collected by banks as fees and commissions, only 20 to 30 cents of that dollar constitutes the actual cost of providing the service."

- Debating the resolution on bank fees in November 2013, Fitz Jackson said: "How could any human being, how could any bank board, any bank CEO sit down and allow this to happen to the most vulnerable ... anybody for that matter, but bearing in mind that there are so many vulnerable persons in the country and they impose this charge?"

- Karl Samuda said: "The problem has existed for a number of years. In fact, the issue first came to the fore in around 2008, when it was decided to undertake an in-depth study of the various charges of the banking institutions".