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Jackson, MSME Alliance support plan to protect consumers from banks

Published:Friday | March 10, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Fitz Jackson

The Micro Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (MSME) Alliance and Fitz Jackson, the parliamentarian pushing for tougher regulation of bank fees, have endorsed the Government's plan to establish an agency to protect consumers in their dealings with financial institutions.

Finance Minister Audley Shaw announced in the House of Representatives Thursday that the Government had requested assistance from the United States to establish the entity during the 2017-2018 fiscal year.


Banking fee legislation


It comes as the Parliament debates a legislation to tighten the regulation of banking fees over the outcry from consumers about the high charges to do various banking services.

Donovan Wignall, the president of the MSME Alliance, said he welcomed the news, but was hoping that the small-business sector would be able to play a part in the set-up of the agency.

"I'm very happy that the minister is now finding it fit to put in an agency. We would love to be a part of that set-up to really cauterise what I think has been a serious disadvantage that has been taken of this sector for a very long period of time. We feel like an abused woman in a relationship that has suffered in silence because nobody was representing us," he said yesterday in an interview 'Real Business' on Power 106FM

Jackson, who is responsible for the legislation before Parliament on bank fees, said he believes a dedicated financial services consumer-protection agency would help to address the concerns of consumers.

"It's something that's been in the making for some time now. I'm glad to know that the plans are advanced to bring it into being. It is important to note that the minister indicated it is not expected before the end of the financial year, which is March 2018, so in no way could it deal with immediate remedies with what obtains now," he told The Gleaner.

Shaw argued that banks have to relook at their systems because "our own studies suggest that dependence on fees by banks in Jamaica is quite stark when compared with other countries based on International Monetary Fund's data on financial soundness indicators. At the same time Jamaican banks' returns on equity and returns on assets also rank very high.