Fri | Aug 7, 2020

Jamaica Baptist Union against moving NIS pension payments to banks

Published:Tuesday | July 14, 2020 | 12:00 AM
General Secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union, Reverend Karl Johnson - File photo

Leon Jackson, Gleaner Writer

The Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU) has come out against the decision of the Government to solely disburse National Insurance Scheme (NIS) pension benefits through commercial banks.

In an interview with The Gleaner, the organisation’s general secretary, the Reverend Karl Johnson, said the move is not cost-effective for pensioners, given the fee structures of financial institutions.

"The financial situation of many of our members makes it impossible for them to incur further costs by opening and maintaining bank accounts. This is so based on the exorbitant fees charged by commercial banks for servicing these accounts," said Johnson.

NIS pensioners would typically receive vouchers for encashment at post offices or branches of National Commercial Bank.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security recently decided that these persons are now expected to have bank accounts in order to receive their payments. 

“As it is now, our pensioners struggle with what little they get. The churches have had to act as a safety net to ensure that some of these members have a certain level of decency on their daily living," said Johnson.

"The JBU is throwing its full weight in support of The Banking Services Amendment Bill introduced by chairman of the People's National Party, Fitz Jackson. We urge him to seek to put back the bill on the agenda of Parliament," he continued.

Jackson’s bill seeks to prevent deposit-taking institutions such as commercial banks from charging customers “arbitrary and exorbitant fees”. 

When contacted, Jackson said he supports the stance of the Baptist Union, and that he is hoping the Government will do what it takes to get the bill passed.

"I welcome the call of the JBU for the bill to be put on the agenda of Parliament. I will urge Prime Minister Holness not to use his majority to prevent the passing of the bill. Failure of the Government to pass the bill would be tantamount to collusion with the banks in heaping onerous charges on pensioners,” said Jackson.

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