Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Disrespectful! - MP angry banks still increasing fees amid parliamentary debate

Published:Friday | March 10, 2017 | 3:00 AMJovan Johnson
Fitz Jackson

Fitz Jackson, the parliamentarian who has tabled legislation to regulate how banks charge fees, has accused some of the institutions of disrespecting Parliament by increasing fees before lawmakers finish their deliberations.

"The increases reinforce the claim I made in the Parliament, at the opening of the debate on the bill, of the contempt that they (banks) have for both the Parliament and the concerns of the depositors," said the St Catherine Southern representative, who claimed that the National Commercial Bank (NCB) increased fees last month.

In a statement to The Gleaner yesterday, NCB confirmed the increase in several of its service charges which took effect on February 20.

The Victoria Mutual Building Society announced on February 2 that new fees for a variety of services will take effect on March 20.

The MP said it was never expected that any deposit-taking institution would raise fees after the debate started in January, as "in normal cases of dispute, any further action is stayed".

 

'GO TO HELL'

 

"They (banks) have said, 'go to hell with you all, we're going to continue to increase as much as we want to increase'; that is the contemptuousness," Jackson said, as he challenged his fellow lawmakers on whether "they are going to submit to such arrogance" or "are they going to stand on the side of fulfilling their duty of protecting the depositors?"

On Monday, after mounting pressure, Scotiabank Jamaica instructed branches to discontinue charging a fee of $385 for exchanging $5,000 notes for smaller denominations.

Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Scotiabank Jamaica David Noel said the fee was never designed for retail customers. The fee charge will now only apply to persons who want to exchange $20,000 or more.

 

...Changes to be made to proposed amendments to Banking Service Act

 

Member of Parliament Fitz Jackson said there will be some changes to the proposed amendments to the Banking Service Act following recommendations from the Jamaica Bankers Association (JBA).

"I am reviewing the comments and recommendations with a view to making adjustments where necessary. So far, I have seen the basis for adjustments," he said, adding that the changes are related to procedures.

Jackson insisted that there will be "no gutting of the bill. One of the central elements in the bill is the minimum service package and that is non-negotiable".

The JBA and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica have expressed concerns about Parliament having a role in price-setting.

There's no timeline for when the House of Representatives will continue the debate, which started on January 24.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com