Re-table banking Bill, Fitz Jackson

Friday, February 23, 2018

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Dear Editor,

I'd like to applaud Catholic Archbishop of Kingston Kenneth Richards for coming out in favour of the proposed Bank Services Bill which was recently defeated in Parliament strictly along party lines. What was so fitting and uplifting was that it was said in a speech at St Anne's Church in Western Kingston in a service honouring distinguished journalist and church deacon Peter Espeut.

I was baptised at that church by the late Rev Fr Charles Eberle, SJ, and attended St Anne's Primary School as well. I'm very proud because what the country desperately needs is moral leadership from the Church.

So the argument presented by The University of the West Indies senior lecturer of economics, Dr Damien King opposing the Bill is without merit. What he is actually doing is defending the indefensible. One doesn't have an advanced degree in economics to figure this out. Common sense would dictate that a bank customer shouldn't be charged for withdrawing his own funds. Nor should that customer's account attract bank fees instead of interest. Or being charge a fee for cashing a cheque. All this amounts to legalised extortion.

The Jamaican people are not naive. They all know that banking is not a charity, it is a business to make a profit— and they do. But they and other financial institutions have colluded and allowed greed to get the better of them with all these predatory fees. The Government should step in and regulate the banking industry — the same way US President Barack Obama did when Wall Street almost bankrupt the world, thereby striking a balance between the banks and their customers through which the banks are able to make a healthy profit and the consumers are not burdened with these unnecessary fees.

The Government of the day should understand that it works for the people and not the other way around. This issue should be quite prominent in the next general election.

I would also like to advise the Government not to play politics with poor people's purses.

So, go right ahead, Fitz Jackson, and re-table the Bank Services Bill; the country is on your side and solidly behind you. The police cannot police itself; why should banks regulate themselves?

Noel Mitchell

Westchester, New York, USA

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