QUESTION NO: 275
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan)
by Deputy Bernard J. Durkan
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 23/06/2015
To ask the Minister for Finance the extent to which he and his Department continue to monitor the levels of bank charges being imposed by various banks; the basis for such charges, nationally and internationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
As I stated in my reply to the Deputy in a previous Parliamentary Question (13599/15) on this subject on 1 April 2015, all credit institutions in Ireland are independent commercial entities. I have no statutory role in relation to the charges applied by credit institutions. Section 149 of the Consumer Credit Act 1995 requires that credit institutions, prescribed credit institutions and bureaux de change must make a submission to the Central Bank if they wish to introduce any new customer charges or increase any existing customer charges in respect of certain services. Section 149 does not cover interest rates rather it applies to fees and commissions only. The Central Bank may direct the institution not to impose the new or increased charge or it may approve the charge, or approve it at a lower level than requested by the institution. Once approved, the bank is entitled to impose the charge.
My Department published a report on the review of the regulation of bank fees and charges in December 2013. This contains a detailed description of the process by which the Central Bank makes decisions on whether or not to approve proposed charges. It is available on my Department’s website at www.finance.gov.ie . Among the key findings of the review was that while fee and commission income has become a more important source of income to the banks in recent years, net fee and commission income in Irish banks was well below the average of their European peers.
The European Communities (Payment Services) Regulations 2009 (the Payment Services Regulations) include requirements for banks and other payment institutions to provide information to the consumer about charges, interest and exchange rates on the accounts and these are reflected in the Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Code 2012, which contains requirements in relation to the provision of information on charges to consumers. The website of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) also lists the various charges imposed by the various financial institutions in Ireland for different types of transactions www.ccpc.ie
Irish financial institutions have varying models for charges and have different regimes and conditions under which they are willing to grant transaction free banking. Individuals’ use of their bank account will be specific to each individual and I would strongly encourage people to look at this comparison site with their specific circumstances in mind in order to decide which institution offers the best product for their pattern of account usage.