Mixed Reactions to Proposal to Using Dormant Funds as Business Catalyst

South St. Catherine Member of Parliament Fitz Jackson, is warning Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Audley Shaw, against using unclaimed monies held by financial institutions to assist small businesses.

Minister Shaw announced on Thursday that the government is consulting with experts on the feasibility of using those unclaimed funds to foster the growth of the micro, small and medium-sized enterprise sector. But, Mr. Jackson, who’s advocating for fewer bank charges, says Minister Shaw should seek to secure depositors monies instead.

Mr. Jackson has been struggling to table in Parliament, his private member’s motion aimed at amending the Banking Services Act. Minister Shaw and other government MPs voted against the bill in February this year. But, Mr. Jackson says his advocacy against what he calls ‘predatory banking fees’ is the reason for the suspension of fees for dormant accounts by several commercial banks.

And, he says it’s disgraceful that Minister Shaw wants to secure these dormant funds for the government’s use.

He says the government should instead work on securing the funds for those who deposited them.

Mr. Jackson says he’s seeking to take legal action against the banks for taking depositors monies through dormancy fees.

He says returning monies taken from depositors by banks should be the government’s priority.

In the meantime, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, PSOJ, says Minister Shaw’s suggestion is commendable.

President of the PSOJ, Howard Mitchell, says if depositors are going to lose their monies in dormant accounts, those monies should go to micro small and medium-sized enterprises, MSMEs.

And the Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Alliance also supports the initiative. Donovan Wignall is the president of the MSME Alliance.

Mr Wignall says he’s pleased with the recent pronouncements of the newly-appointed Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.

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