Bill could have far reaching implications – MP

first_imgNational Payments System bill…must be supported by reliable Internet, cyber securityThe National Payments System Bill of 2018, which will among other things, allow for facilitating more electronic transactions in society, is slated to be read again the next time Government business is dispensed with in the National Assembly.According to People’s Progressive Party (PPP) frontbencher Irfaan Ali, however, the new law could have negative effects on consumers, unless Government sets appropriate guidelines… for instance, it could increase the cost of doing business, as well as be subject to unreliable Internet.“With respect to the payment system, cost of transactions will go up to customers because someone has to pay for the service. It could be quite high if not regulated by strong guidelines.”“Cyber security will have to be addressed since the entire system can be shut down,” Ali also posited. “Internet connection will have to be better and safe as wellOpposition parliamentarian Irfaan Alias reliable. Residents in rural and hinterland will have to wait for payments. (The bill should be) more friendly to elderly and low-income customers.”Guyana’s poor Information Communication Technology (ICT) capabilities are well known. According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) country strategy report on Guyana for 2017 to 2021, Guyana has been lagging in this area. And because of this, everything is affected; from the service Government entities provide to the public, to the ability to implement effective policies.“The limited use of ICT not only impedes the development of a robust data gathering/dissemination mechanism necessary for evidence-based decision-making, but also affects the Government’s front-office functions directed at businesses and citizens, including the facilitation of business climate and procedural services for citizens,” the report had stated.“This is reflected in Guyana’s low position in the e-Government Survey published by the United Nations, where it ranks 126th out of 193 countries, with a score of 0.37 out of one, well below the regional and sub-regional averages,” the report notes.According to the report, the ability to design policy is further constrained by the limited collection and use of data. The bank acknowledged that while Guyana’s overall statistical capacity building has improved over the years; it is still behind its Latin-American and Caribbean (LAC) counterparts.The billThe bill in question contains provisions for persons to use “electronic money” through SIM cards and software accepted as a means of payment. There are also provisions for presenting cheques in electronic form.And then there are the penalties, which range from a fine of $500,000 and two years’ imprisonment when convicted as an individual to a $2 million fine as a body corporate. Part 12, section 51 speaks to various offences and penalties designed to keep the payment system running smoothly.The penalties apply to section seven and eight (attaining a licence before providing payment system or service). The Act states that banks, as direct participants in the system, do not have to acquire a licence. The same applies for money transfer service providers. However, section three (a) adds that they must comply with all other requirements of the Act.The penalties also apply to section 13, which prohibits transferring licences, as well as section 23. Section 23 mandates compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) laws.In section 32, operators are also prohibited from outsourcing its services without the bank. In section 33, they also have to seek approval in order to use agents. And then there are those who refuse to comply with any order issued by the Bank of Guyana as an administrative measure.According to section 50 (4), “a person who fails to comply with an order issued, pay a fine imposed or otherwise comply with administrative measures taken by the bank in accordance with this section commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction as specified in section 51.”last_img read more