Lower House votes to end debate on Banking Services Bill

Audley Shaw
The House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon voted to discontinue the debate on the Banking Services Bill as proposed by Member of Parliament for St. Catherine Southern Fitz Jackson.
The members voted 30 to 29 to discontinue the proposed legislation.
Finance Minister Audley Shaw, in a statement to the House, said it is competition which will have to drive down bank fees.
He said the government has issued two additional commercial banking licences which increased the number of players in the sector.
According to the Finance Minister, 95 per cent of what Mr. Jackson is seeking to have put into law is already contained in the Banking Services Act.
"This is not a contentious issue, you know. This is an instructural issue. I am simply pointing out to the member and to the members on that other side, who were the government in 2014, that I have sighted 13 or 14 things that the bill, this private member's bill ask for (sic), that are already in a bill that you passed in 2014," he disclosed. 
He added that under the current administration, the banking code of conduct has already been implemented by the Bank of Jamaica.  
Mr. Shaw has also chided former Finance Minister Dr. Peter Phillips for what he said is the politicisation of the issue of bank fees by "making it look like this side not interested in consumer affairs; that we not interested in the customers of banks and other financial insitutions." 
The government has given its clearest indication yet that it intends to significantly reduce the time in which an account remains dormant and the funds can be accessed by the administration.
The Finance Minister said the reduced time was arrived at after an international survey.
"I can give this Parliament the assurance that I am actively looking at reducing that time from 15 years and will come down to at least seven years where the government will have access to those funds," he indicated.
Bankers Association 
In a statement Tuesday afternoon the Jamaica Bankers Association said it took note of the submission regarding the Banking Services Act and is committed to the adherence of policies and programmes designed to protect consumers.  
It said the local banking sector operates within the established common standard for customer relationships.
It explained that this allows for customer interaction and recourse for adjudicating disputes. 
The Bankers Association added that the Bank of Jamaica has established an enforceable Code of Conduct for Commercial Banks which seeks to protect consumers.
This was effective August 31 last year.

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