Suriname passes law separating money transfer and cambio services

(de Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO – Parliament adopted the Supervision on Money Transaction firms Act last night by a 27-7 vote. The Nieuw Front faction voted against. The Act states that money transfer firms and cambios must be separated.

If an entrepreneur wants to operate both he has to put up two separate limited liability companies. Minister of Finance Adelien Wijnerman explained that the public should run as little risk as possible. The Act wants to prevent transferring money from one company to the other. The Central Bank will have the authority to issue licenses and to monitor transaction firms.

Although the legislature made 30 amendments to the Act, the opposition could not agree with the powers granted to the Central Bank. ‘The government okayed 80 percent of our suggestions, but failed to look at the principal 20 percent,’ legislator Asiskumar Gajadien points out. He claims that supervision on issuing licenses is poor. He is also against the stipulation that cambios have to sell part of their foreign currency reserves at a fixed rate to the Central Bank. The government agreed on the matter of ownership.

The draft had suggested a maximum 40 percent stake by one person, but cambio owners had protested because they feared losing control over their own firm. Minister Wijnerman agreed to change this to 51 percent. The Minister stated, however, that national carrier SLM is the only firm allowed to request payment in foreign currency. She denies other firms have permission. Wijnerman explained that the government in no way wants to discourage citizens from accumulating capital in foreign currency. ‘If an individual manages to save up US$ 10,000 through hard work, we applaud that.’

The opposition fired questions on the issue of the Trinidadian Republic Bank gaining a stake in the Hakrinbank. Legislator Guno Castelen is convinced that the foreign bank already has a say in Hakrinbank operations. Ronald Venetiaan warned about the Trinidadian invasion and its consequences, with an evident reference to the bankruptcy of insurance company Clico. Minister Wijnerman responded that the government has not made a decision on shedding its Hakrinbank shares. Speaker Jennifer Geerlings-Simons called on the government to explain the legislation on how state enterprises should be privatized.

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