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MPs take banks to task over excessive charges

Akel MP Irini Charalambides said the decisions taken last week were different from the result they saw expressed in the letter that was sent

MPs on Wednesday accused banks of profiteering over their charges for certain services like payment of utility bills and transfers between accounts.

Members of the House ethics committee were particularly irked after hearing that the charges mostly hurt pensioners and vulnerable groups who have no internet access or live in areas with no bank branches.

“Hands off our low-pension parents,” committee chairman, Disy MP Zaharias Zahariou said. “Charge those with money as much as you want (but) don’t bother the low pensioners.”

Our View: Banks are charging too much, but MPs’ cheap populism won’t change that

Zahariou said MPs had received many complaints over the bank charges, which appeared to rise on a daily basis.

Payment of a utility bill rose to two euros from one and is expected to rise to five with the new year, he said.

Having an account costs two euros per month from eight per year, he added.

Zahariou said the ministries of finance and commerce and the central bank will look into setting charges for vulnerable groups.

“We have given time until the end of January to enter a dialogue and for banks to realise they will always need consumers and if they drive them away there will come a time they will be begging them to return and they won’t,” he said.

He said an effort will be made to find a compromise by the end of January.

Akel MP Irini Charalambides said banks have become a state within a state.

Charalambides said the people paid the price when the banks destroyed the country and they owed their survival to the people’s sacrifices.

“At the moment they continue to profiteer and not respect Cypriot citizens, especially systemic banks,” she added.

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