The private bank fee regulation bills proposed by three members of the Knesset passed the first hurdle of approval unanimously in the Knesset Economics Committee on Monday.
"The train of supervision and restraint on bank fees has been put in motion today," said MK Moshe Kahlon, chairman of the Knesset Economics Committee. "At the end of the process we will drastically bring down the number of bank fees, which are being charged to the public."
The Knesset Economics Committee has been reviewing the legislations put forward by MK Amnon Cohen, MK Gilad Ardan and MK Haim Katz since they were proposed three months ago.
The private bills would limit the ability of banks to levy fees on customers, impose third-party supervision over fee increases, as well as ban certain types of fees such as the penalties imposed on customers who attempt to switch to another bank. The Knesset will vote on the proposed bills on Wednesday.
Bank fees became a hot topic at the end of last year after Bank Leumi, Bank Hapoalim and Israel Discount Bank angered customers after announcing plans to raise many of their charges.
The bill proposed by Ardan authorizes the Supervisor of Banks to interfere in the level of bank fees, including banning certain fees. "The bills constitute a revolution in the relations between banks and their customers, and would encourage competition and transparency in favor of the consumer," said Ardan.
The law proposal presented by Cohen, suggests that the increase of bank fees would be made dependent on changes the consumer price index and that the switching from bank-to-bank be eased. "It is important that the bill that will be passed in the Knesset will also include my proposal to remove the obstacles for switching from one bank to another," said Cohen.
The Director-General of the Association of Banks in Israel, Moshe Perl, and representatives of the banks complained that the committee should have waited for the conclusions of the parliamentary inquiry committee on bank fees, before allowing any bills to proceed.
In response, Kahlon said the inquiry's conclusions would be included in the proposals after the second or third vote on the bills and before their final vote into law.