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Kamla: Banks digging out people’s eyes with fees

KWAME WEEKES Wednesday, March 15 2017

WHILE banks continue to “dig out your eye” with increasing bank fees and charges, bankers are “laughing all the way to the bank” with billions of dollars in profit, charged UNC political leader , Kamla-Persad- Bissessar as she called on the government to invoke the Central Bank Act to regulate the banking sector.

Persad-Bissessar made the statements on Monday evening before a large crowd gathered in the hall of Preysal High School at the UNC’s (United National Congress) first Monday Night Forum since the last local government election.

Referencing the Central Bank’s Financial Stability Report, Persad- Bissessar said the local banking sector earned $4.1 billion in profits before tax in 2015 and this was due in large part to increasing bank fees and charges. “They (banks) not listening to (Attorney General) Faris (Al-Rawi) you know,” said Persad-Bissessar.

“Remember Faris said you don’t have to make a profit in a business? They not listening to that.” She listed the profits earned by major banks over the last two years and compared it to increases in bank fees and charges.

Referencing the report again, Persad-Bissessar said the billions in the sector were earned from, among other things, the introduction of new, and the increase of old, bank fees and charges.

“That is what they call digging out your eyes,” said the UNC leader.

“More than advantage from the super structure, from the super elites with $1.2 billion in their pockets.” This, she said, happens while banks keep customers outside “in the hot sun and rain” before they open only for customers to wait in long lines to be served.

Persad-Bissessar said she wrote to the Bankers Association on Monday and asked them to “put country first”.

Turning her attention to Finance Minister Colm Imbert, the opposition leader reminded him of his promise to look into regulating the banking sector through the Central Bank.

Persad-Bissessar said the government has since not acted on its promise and should look into invoking different sections of the Central Bank Act to regulate the sector, namely Sections 33:C and 33:D.

“They need to look at a different section of the Central Bank Act if they want to deal with the bank charges and bank fees.” Persad-Bissessar cited Jamaica as a regional example of a government seeking to regulate the banking sector.

She highlighted a Jamaica Observer article of March 10 which spoke of the Jamaican MP for Southern St Catherine, Fitz Jackson, bringing a Private Member’s Bill to parliament seeking government’s regulation of bank fees and charges.



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