Caught between banks and the cow thief
The imposition of a dormancy fee as well as user fees by rapacious bankers has wreaked havoc with the hard-earned savings of unsuspected Jamaicans, many of whom are yet to and might never recover their money, Fitz Jackson member of Parliament for St Catherine South told Parliament on Tuesday.
Parliamentarians, he said, must bear much of the blame for this initial seduction and subsequent swindling of honest, hardworking people who were duped as a result of a desire to be law abiding.
"We say to people, bank your money into these institutions that we as a government has licensed. These are credible, reputable people, honest, respectful people, (and) we are licensing them. (So) put the money in there and you will be safe. It is a matter of record that these licensed institutions have skimmed off the depositors' money and put it in their pockets for their own benefits. That is the reality," he declared in Parliament.
Jackson went on to highlight the woes of Manchester farmer as told to him by a relative.
With thieves wreaking havoc in his area, the man opted to sell a cow and deposit the money in an account, to be used to bury his mother. It was only when he sold a calf and tried to deposit that money that the poor man learnt that the money had been eroded by dormancy fee.
The member of Parliament lamented that in trying to do right by his mother and himself, even as he tried to elude farm thieves, the farmer in using the legal system, had ended up losing that which he had every right to believe was safe and sound.
"So the cow thief that him running from over in Manchester was the least of his troubles," Jackson told The Gleaner afterwards.
In making the case show how people had suffered as a result of institutionalised bank practices, he cited the case of gardener who was paid $2,000 by cheque for work done in Cherry Gardens who only learnt while encashing it a Bank of Nova Scotia branch that the fee was $1,385. Even by conservative estimates by the time he paid bus fare to and from the bank, he was left with less than $500.
Scotiabank rolled back the cost to encash cheques drawn on other banks in December, from the $1,358 to a standard fee of $385 for all cheque encashments.
Jackson recounted his experience when a cabinet maker who charged $8,000 to repair some chairs, requested a down payment of $4,000 in order to by some material.
"Is after I pay him the $4,000 cash it dawned on me that if I had given him as I usually do, the money would have been significantly shortened. Remember the fee was $1,385, so he would have had only about $2,600 to buy material."