Efforts to reform Guyana’s National Payment Systems, which commenced more than four years ago, will soon be supported by legislation.
The legislation primarily seeks to address an existing and outdated system that falls short of meeting the needs of the economy and financial markets.
The National Assembly on Friday debated the National Payment System Bill which makes provision for ensuring there is efficient, safe and sound means to conduct transactions and transfer funds.
Minister of Finance Winston Jordan presented the Bill and said Guyana needed to move ahead with its vision and strategies of building a robust, safe, sound, efficient and inclusive National Payment System (NPS) that meets the current and future needs of the economy.
Jordan said when compared to financial systems around the region Guyana was in fact “playing catchup” but he welcomed the Bill which supports financial activity and financial sector development, advances the use of electronic payments and contribute to financial risk mitigation.
This Bill seeks to introduce legislation for the establishment, regulation and oversight of a National Payments System and provides for the establishment of the National Payments System Council.
It sets out the general powers and duties of the National Payments System Council. It also lays out the operational role of the Bank of Guyana in relation to the National Payments System Council.
According to Jordan’s executive summary, the Bill provides for the licensing of payment service providers and systems operators.
The Bank is also given the power to impose individual conditions for the operation of systems and the provision of services, ask for information, and agree with the individual operator or payments service provider on limitations in the activity or specific protective measures or impose sanctions and withdraw the relevant licence.
“It provides for the on-going oversight by the Bank…. These include the power to audit, have access to all records and information, examine and inspect where necessary for the oversight of systems and payment service providers.”
The Bill also provides for consumer protection. Clause 29 includes provisions for the transparency of fees charged by a payment service provider. While Clause 30 provides that payment service providers should disclose the terms and conditions of a payment service in a manner clearly understood by the consumer, at the time the consumer contracts for the payment service. Clause 31 sets out the complaint procedure.
Opposition MP Nigel Dharamlall opened the debate for the Opposition side and took credit for the introduction of the NPS which he said commenced during the PPP’s term in office.
Although he said the Minister was just implementing a piece of legislation that the PPP began working on, he had several criticisms of the Bill and the powers it gives to agencies to ensure that the system works and is not abused.