Independent parliamentarian Rolando Brison deserves credit for his initiative Consumer Banking Protection Law (see related story). Rather than just criticise local banks for their restrictive policies and sharpened requirements or blame government, he decided to try to do something about it.
How that effort will fare remains to be seen, but the member’s draft bill is being edited to comply with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regulations, obviously an essential ingredient. The expected eight to ten weeks before it reaches the floor of Parliament may seem like a lot, but not when considering the need to seek advice from the Social Economic Council (SER) and Council of Advice.
In addition, Brison announced there would be consultations with stakeholders, including the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA), the Chamber of Commerce COCI, the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS) and the St. Maarten Insurance Association.
He will also submit the proposed legislation to the St. Maarten Bankers Association, which may prove its biggest test. The interest group’s president Derek Downes called “de-risking” a major challenge for the regional banking sector in Friday’s paper.
He said this led banks to increase their anti-money-laundering and countering financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) platform not only to satisfy the regulator, but also to maintain their “crucial” correspondence banking relationships primarily in the U.S.
The latter – to a large extent – determine the rules of the game nowadays, prompted by the threat of huge fines if found non-compliant with global money-transfer standards and best practices. That is today’s international reality in which banks must operate, but if the member’s bill can improve matters for clients within those parameters of feasibility it would certainly be welcome.
Of course, the current UP leader might not be there to present his initiative if he joins the executive branch. With the young politician’s marketing background and his party getting the portfolio Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) in the new NA/UP coalition, some see him as the perfect fit.
He has been quite active as legislator and often talked the talk when it comes to the hospitality industry, so perhaps it’s time to walk the walk.