On Wednesday 21 November, the FNM led House of Assembly passed into law two bills which in short allow the government to steal the money of those people who may have forgotten they had money in the bank and authorizes the Government to convert it to use by the Government in the consolidated fund. No matter what fancy words and aims the Prime Minister Hubert Minnis outlined on that day, it amounts to appropriating property belonging to another with the permanent intention to deprive. That is stealing. Chester Cooper MP who led the debate for the PLP said that there ought at least to be an imposed obligation on the bank when they are declaring an account dormant to make an attempt to notify the owner of the account. Glenys Hanna Martin MP posted this explanation of the PLP’s vote against the bills on Facebook:
The PLP VOTED AGAINST the Dormant Account legislation because: –
1) Under this new law you lose your right to reclaim YOUR money after 17 years (10 years in the bank 7 years in Central Bank). This changes our current law where you NEVER lose your right which is also the case in the UK where you never lose that right and in Canada the right is lost only after the expiry of 100 years;
2) The current funds eyed by the government totalling over $40 million and all other future funds will go into the Consolidated Fund.
In many other jurisdictions a separate fund or account is created and monies are used for social purposes to improve lives of the citizens; a reserve is always kept to pay out reclaimed sums.
We in the PLP held the position that it is not correct that an owner (or his heirs) should ever lose his right to reclaim his cash, securities, precious gems or metals left dormant in HIS bank account or security deposit box even if dormant in excess of 17 years, – A right that exists under our current law.
This government’s approach deprives owners of their vested rights.
The application of the funds, said to be for Disaster Relief, is not transparent as the money will become immersed in the Consolidated Fund.
It seems clear to us the government, through the consistent mishandling of our economy, is strapped for revenue and in apparent desperation has now resorted to confiscating monies in people’s dormant accounts.
The PLP suggested amendments to make it more palatable. The government refused to consider them.
We therefore opposed the measures