Bank fee law passes committee

While the new law does say the number of fees, estimated to be 450, will be slashed, it does not give an exact number.

moshe kahlon 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
moshe kahlon 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Knesset Bank Fees Inquiry Committee on Monday unanimously approved the bank fee legislation law, giving the Bank of Israel authority over fees and drastically reducing the number of fees customers will be charged while imposing harsh penalties on institutions that don't adhere to the new rules. "The Bank Fee committee has made history today," said committee chairman MK Moshe Kahlon (Likud). "This is a special moment in the history of the Knesset as this is the first time that we have given regulatory tools to the Bank Supervisor in order for him to prevent damage to customers." Kahlon added that on Tuesday (today) the law will be read in the Knesset plenum for second and third readings and he fully expects that the law will come into effect on Wednesday. "We are standing at a very historic time regarding control over the banks," said Banks Supervisor Rony Hizkiyahu after the announcement was made. "I give great credit to the members of the committee - we wouldn't have arrived at this moment had it not been for their great effort. This law will correct some of the current failures in the banking market." While the new law does say the number of fees, estimated to be 450, will be slashed, it does not give an exact number. Additionally, the law stipulates that banks may not collect two fees for the same service; that banks must publish a list of fees on a quarterly basis; and that banks are no longer allowed to charge customers for switching from one institution to another. Banks also will be prohibited from instituting new fees without prior permission from the Banks Supervisor. The committee also included in the law that the Banking Supervision Department will be authorized to set the list of bank fees within three months. After doing so, the banks will have six months to consolidate fees and set new tariffs. Should banks violate the new law, a fine of NIS 1.5 million will be assessed. As expected, reaction from bank representatives was not as positive. "Not even one of our suggestions was accepted," said legal counsel for the banks, Tal Nadav. "The law represents a complete turnaround in the relationship that the Knesset has with the banks and our effort to arrive at a compromise was turned into mere adornment." Moshe Perl, chairman of the Israel Banks Association, requested from the committee that it postpone instituting the law in order to give the banks time to "organize themselves in a professional manner." The bank fee regulation law resembles the original proposal by the Bank of Israel, which gives the Banking Supervision Department full authority to supervise and establish the list of bank fees. Full implementation of the law will be within a year, although the Banking Supervision Department's authority to supervise fees will be immediate.