Wednesday, 21 September 2022
Department of Finance
45. To ask the Minister for Finance if he will engage with the banking sector to demand a moratorium on fining customers who fail to make direct debit payments on time for the duration of the energy crisis (details supplied). [46310/22]
It should be noted that the Minister for Finance has no direct function in the operations of commercial banks. Although the State is a shareholder in some of the banks operating in the State, the Minister must ensure that these banks are run on a commercial, cost effective and independent basis to protect the value of the bank as an asset to the State. Actions taken by the banks, including the fees and charges applied to services, are matters for the board and management of each institution.
In accordance with the Central Bank of Ireland’s Consumer Protection Code 2012 (the Code), where credit institutions impose fees, provision 4.54 of the Code requires that prior to providing a service to a consumer, credit institutions must provide the consumer with a breakdown of all charges which will be passed on to the customer. In addition, provision 4.56 of the Code requires that banks must display a schedule of fees on their website and in their public offices. Furthermore, the European Union (Payment Services) Regulations 2018 also requires payment service providers to make information available to consumers regarding charges payable by them.
Under Section 149 of the Consumer Credit Act, 1995 (as amended)(the Act), credit institutions must notify the Central Bank if they wish to introduce any new customer charges or increase any existing customer charges, in respect of the provision of any of the following services: making and receiving and receiving payments, providing foreign exchange facilities, providing and granting credit and maintaining and administrating transaction accounts.
Each notification received by the Central Bank is assessed and robustly challenged in accordance with the specific criteria set out in Section 149 of the Act. The Central Bank may either approve (in full or at lower levels than requested) or reject a credit institution’s application under Section 149. In fulfilling its statutory role under Section 149, the Central Bank assesses these notifications in accordance with the following specific assessment criteria as set out in the legislation: the promotion of fair competition; the commercial justification; the effect new charges or increases in existing charges will have on customers; and passing on costs to customers.
Where a regulated entity intends to introduce new charges or increase any existing charges, under provision 6.18 of the Consumer Protection Code, it must give notice to affected consumers of the introduction of any new charges or of increases in charges, specifying the old and new charge, at least 30 days prior to the charge taking effect.