I propose to take Questions Nos. 285 to 287, inclusive, together.
I, as Minister for Finance have no statutory role in relation to bank charges imposed by regulated financial institutions. This is a commercial matter for the lending institutions concerned.
The Central Bank has advised me that under Section 149 of the Consumer Credit Act, 1995 (as amended), credit Institutions and bureaux de change must notify the Central Bank if they wish to:
- Introduce any new customer ‘charge’ for providing a service or
- Increase any existing customer ‘charge’ for providing a service.
Service means any service provided by a credit institution to a customer in respect of the following:
- Making and receiving payments;
- Providing foreign exchange facilities;
- Providing and granting credit;
- Maintaining and administrating transaction accounts used for the services specified including issuing statements.
These charges are assessed by the Central Bank in accordance with the criteria laid down in the legislation as follows:
- The promotion of fair competition between holders of authorisations and credit institutions;
- The commercial justification submitted in respect of the proposal;
- The impact new charges or increases in existing charges will have on customers, and
- Passing on costs to customers.
The Deputy may wish to note that the Government has committed in the latest Troika programme to undertake an assessment of banks’ fee income relative to peers in selected other jurisdictions with a view to completing an external review of our regulation of bank fees by end–December.