7th November 2002
Unclaimed Life Assurance Policies Bill 2002
``Impose Govt. controls on insurance and banking costs'' - Ó Caoláin
The leader of the Sinn Fein TDs in the Dáil, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, has called for the Government to impose control on insurance and banking charges. Speaking in the Dáil on the Unclaimed Life Assurance Bill he said the principle in the legislation whereby financial institutions will be more regulated, should be extended. He said:
``Irish banks and insurance companies are some of the most exploitative in the world. The banks enjoy a return on their equity that is double the EU average. We have banks that are the most profitable in Europe. They are charging customers for a range of services that their directly comparable counterparts in Britain do not. These services include setting up an overdraft or a direct debit, account maintenance charges, ATM withdrawals and lodgements.
``The country is convulsed at the moment over the issue of insurance. It is scandalous that the Irish government and the EU are allowing the insurance industry to ruthlessly exploit customers through gross overcharging and profiteering. This is having a huge knock-on effect in terms of employment and the cost of living.
``If the principle is accepted, even in this relatively modest Bill, that these institutions should be more strictly regulated then it should apply across the board with all their activities. And that must include price control and strict regulation of charges and costs. The financial institutions must also be called to account on their role in assisting people to evade and avoid tax. If we can target dormant accounts we should also be able to target active ones, including offshore accounts which are used by the super-rich to avoid their social obligations in this country. Only yesterday Minister Hanafin told the Dáil that Clancy Barracks - which should have been sold to Dublin City Council for Social Housing - had been sold to a property company based in Jersey. I doubt that they are based in Jersey for the good of their health.''
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