BOJ says Lumi not legal, but Accompong finance minister insists central bank can't dictate to them

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

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Accompong Maroons Finance Minister Chief Semako I yesterday scoffed at a Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) advisory that the Maroons' currency, the Lumi, was not legal tender and that a bank established by the group in its St Elizabeth community is not licensed.

The BOJ's advisory, published in yesterday's Jamaica Observer, came just over three weeks after the newspaper broke the story that the Maroons had established their own currency and a bank named the Central Solar Reserve Bank of Accompong.

“The public is advised that the entity or body referring to itself as Central Solar Reserve Bank of Accompong is not authorised by Bank of Jamaica to include the word 'bank' in its name, nor is it licensed under the Banking Services Act to take deposits or to carry on banking business in Jamaica,” BOJ said in the advisory.

“The public is further advised that under the Bank of Jamaica Act, only Bank of Jamaica has the right and authority to issue currency notes and coins in the island of Jamaica. Any such notes and coins purported to be issued by any person or body other than by Bank of Jamaica is not legal tender of the island of Jamaica. The public should therefore be guided accordingly,” the BOJ added.

But last night Semako I, whose given name is Timothy McPherson, spewed defiance while pouring cold water on the BOJ's statement, saying that the central bank cannot dictate to the Maroons.

“In terms of jurisdiction, the Bank Act of Accompong designates the Central Solar Reserve Bank of Accompong as the monetary authority of Accompong. We are not contesting the monetary authority of the Bank of Jamaica in Jamaica, but they cannot dictate what we do. Our bank Act states clearly that the bank of Accompong is the monetary authority of Accompong,” said Semako.

Semako had first told the Observer about the bank as the Maroons and other residents of communities in Trelawny gathered at National Heroes' Circle on September 17 to march to Parliament in protest against the prospect of mining in the Cockpit Country.

At the time, he said the Maroons had sent official correspondence, through the governor general, to Her Majesty The Queen, claiming that the issuing of bauxite mining leases in the Cockpit Country is tantamount to her breaching the peace treaty signed with their ancestors, the Leeward Maroons, in 1738.

As such, the Maroons, he said, are demanding that in order to remedy the breach and restore the peace, all bauxite mining activity in the Cockpit Country and its surrounding protected areas must cease and The Queen should pay “an environmental fine in the amount of Accompong Lumi 262 million, which is to be deposited with the chief receiver at the Central Solar Reserve Bank of Accompong with the instruction of allocation for the reduction of carbon emissions via the development of solar energy infrastructure”.

Semako I had told the Observer that the Lumi is a currency that was enacted by the Government of Accompong in 2014 and was officially issued for release at the beginning of 2018.

“The currency is going to be entered into the international market this year. The way it is structured is, it is similar to the gold structure, but rather than using gold as its value it uses solar energy as its underlying value. So its structure is designed to help engage in the battle against carbon emissions and facilitate climate action activity,” Semako I said.

“It is also being established as the official currency for the six regions of the African diaspora,” he added.

Asked how the currency is valued, Semako I said each Lumi is valued at 100 kilowatt hours (kWh). “We nominalise the kilowatt hour currently at 10 cents per kilowatt hour, so one Lumi is approximately US$10,” he explained at the time.

Late last month, during a visit to Accompong, Semako I showed the Observer a building which he identified as the Central Solar Reserve Bank and which was constructed at the end of 2017.

“The bank has not held its official opening celebration as yet, but has been fully operational in the performance of its back-office duties as a central bank. We have a technical IT support team and consultants who are on assignment internationally,” said Semako I, who was appointed acting minister of finance in 2014, and officially designated minister of finance in 2018 by Accompong's Chief Fearon Williams and Deputy Chief Melville Currie, as well as the Maroon Council.

He also said that the Lumi was printed in Canada and is currently being used by some residents at local shops in the community.

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