Mon | Jul 24, 2017

Jackson wants bank fee bill debated before summer break

Published:Monday | July 17, 2017 | 7:00 AM

St Catherine South Member of Parliament Fitz Jackson has called for the intervention of Prime Minister Andrew Holness to speed up the redrafting of a bill to amend the Banking Services Act to address the vexed issue of bank fees.

Indicating that he was running out of patience as he continues to agitate for the redrafting and tabling of the bill in the Lower House, Jackson said he would want to see the bill debated before lawmakers rise for their annual summer break.

"I am asking the prime minister to give the necessary instruction to the House leader and the Parliament to have the matter dealt with and be disposed of by both Houses before we break for the summer," the legislator told The Gleaner in an interview.

He argued that with parents preparing to deal with a plethora of back-to-school expenses the continued imposition by the banks of "exorbitant fees" would only serve to create increased hardships for Jamaicans.

"The ball is in the Government's court, which has the business of ordering the matters before the House."

Jackson said he remains resolute to see the bill go through, noting that much of the debate on the measure had already taken place in the Lower House.

Last Tuesday, Speaker of the House of Representatives Pearnel Charles said he could not give the assurance that the redrafting of the bill would be complete for this Thursday, a deadline Jackson said he got from the legislative counsel of Parliament.

Jackson told his colleagues in the Lower House last week that he had engaged the services of a former chief parliamentary counsel to provide technical support in completing the redrafting.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Pearnel Charles has joined in the call by opposition legislator Fitz Jackson for the bill to amend the Banking Services Act to be ready for tabling as early as possible.

However, Charles told members of the Lower House last week that he could not give a complete assurance "because of the amount of bills that may come before the House".

However, Jackson said he was disheartened by Charles' remarks that he could not guarantee the completion of the bill.

"I am of the view that the Parliament is not seized of the urgency of the matter because if there is a human resource limitation it comes down to how you prioritise what you have to do, and it is clear to me that there is not sufficient priority being attached to this matter."

He argued that while the Parliament dithers with the bill "every passing day there are hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans losing money and the Parliament is demonstration its lack of appreciation of that injury that the people is offering."