(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Knesset Economics Committee will lead a parliamentary inquiry committee in an effort to bring bank fees into order.
"I am certain that at the end of the process we will succeed in significantly lowering the bank fees," said MK Moshe Kahlon, chairman of the Knesset Economics Committee, who will head the parliamentary inquiry panel. "We will set up a system of regulation, which is genuine and just, for the determination and collection of fees from bank customers."
The parliamentary inquiry committee will be responsible for examining the system of bank fees and regulation on this matter and compare it with global banking systems. The committee will also look into the role and authority of the Bank of Israel on the subject of bank fees. Kahlon has asked the Governor of the Bank of Israel, Prof. Stanley Fischer, for the central bank to act as an active partner in the committee's discussions.
Separately, the central bank is expected to present its own recommendation by the end of February for a revised draft bill for the supervision of bank fees, which was initiated back in 2004 by the former governor of the Bank of Israel David Klein.
Furthermore, the parliamentary committee will formulate and put forward recommendations to the Knesset and regulatory bodies for legislative and regulatory changes on the subject of banking fees and their regulation.
"We expect full cooperation from all the banks, while at the same time, the tool of using legislation has not been waived," said Kahlon. The parliamentary inquiry committee on bank fees is expected to be approved officially this week by the Knesset plenum.
Bank fees became a hot topic at the end of last year after Bank Leumi, Bank Hapoalim and Israel Discount Bank announced plans to raise many of their charges, raising the ire of customers.
In response, the Knesset Economics Committee has been reviewing legislations proposed by MK Amnon Cohen and MK Gilad Ardan, which 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 banks, in turn, are actively trying to find ways to block legislation that would impose regulation on banking fees and say they are constantly reviewing their fee structures in an effort to find ways of reducing the number of charges and win back customer confidence.