“And sooo it continued both daaay and night. Noel, Noel, Noel, Noeeelll!
Everyday is Christmas for the Bank of Jamaica (BoJ) these days it seems. They now want to regulate bill payment companies. I am very confused as to the rationale for this move, as this Gleaner article did not state why.
These regulations were not needed for the past few decades, so what is the basis of the BoJ’s regulatory imposition on these businesses to comply with this new policy? As a side note shouldn’t this fall under the Office of Utilities Regulation if it involves utilities payments or the Ministry of Finance (that operates a horse-racing track of all things!)?
With reference to this new regulatory imposition, Don Wehby, CEO of Grace Kennedy Ltd (the parent company for Bill Express) said, and I quote…. “we are cautious as we do foresee possible costs for licensing and compliance”…. of course he failed to mention that these cost will be borne by his company’s customers. He appears to have changed his tune in a subsequent quote, as he….. “welcomes regulation aimed at ensuring our financial payment industry remains compliant”. Compliant with what? What was wrong with the system before, where utility agencies agreed with these bill payment service companies to collect customers’ payments on their behalf? It seemed to be working quite well to me. I heard of no fraud being committed.
Someone once told me that rules, regulations and laws neither fix nor prevent anything. It merely creates a route by which lawbreakers will navigate for making ‘illegal’ profits and promotes fraud. In creating systems of less freedom for those who conduct business in this sector, the BOJ will in effect be creating a new crop of ‘schemers’ who will find ways to ‘beat the system’ at all times. With systems of less rules and policies, there will be less schemers and law beakers, because there would exist no incentive to break a non-existing regulation or law.
I posit to you reader, that this move is just out of pure (non-malicious) self-interest on the part of the BoJ. Just as any organization or individual does to improve their lot in life, the government and Executive agencies of government do likewise, we all pursue our self-interests. The BoJ wants to expand their role (and control) in the financial and business sectors, in some twisted way to show their ‘effectiveness‘, to show that they are doing ‘something‘.
The BoJ is already trying to take over a very efficient and functional Credit Union system in Jamaica. A system which Credit Union bosses says will by stymied by BoJ regulations.
By the way BoJ, let me interject here…. great job (2 sarcastic thumbs up) you guys have been doing with monetary policy over the last 3-4 decades! The BoJ can’t be contented with playing an umpire’s role; they must be batsman, bowler, match referee, scorer and groundsman all at the same time to influence the outcome of the game! This is just not feasible.
Who will have to bear the cost of this new regulation by the way? The burden will fall on the taxpayers and bill-paying customers, no one else, for implementation, monitoring, enforcement and prosecution for non-compliance. Additionally, newcomers trying to start a bill payment service business will have a hard time doing so with new rules, regulations and policies to comply with, and Don Wehby knows this. You see, Wehby is comfortable as a business and social elite in Jamaican society and this new imposition will have little or negligible impact on his mega-corporation or in his pocketbook. It will have a big impact on new business trying to start up to give him competition in this area, as it will lock these new competitors out!
And what of the common man? The man eking out a living, trying to scrounge and make his way up and out of a ‘hand to mouth’ existence for himself and his family? He is the one who is really going to feel this. He loses out with higher fee impositions and less competition in the market to offer him choices.
“Born is the Kiiiing of Israel!”