New Slovak consumer protection strategy unveiled

THE SLOVAK Central Bank (NBS) should have greater powers in supervising financial markets, according to a strategy for consumer protection approved by the government on January 8.

THE SLOVAK Central Bank (NBS) should have greater powers in supervising financial markets, according to a strategy for consumer protection approved by the government on January 8.

The document sets several goals that should boost greater protection for Slovak consumers. It also envisages the development of tools with which clients of financial institutions can defend themselves. According to the strategy, the NBS should in the future oversee all licensed entities on the financial market, including non-banking institutions.

Under the new legislation, only licensed entities under the supervision of the central bank will be able to provide loans. The strategy also foresees the creation of a contact point at which clients of financial institutions can lodge complaints. Currently, non-banking institutions are overseen by the Slovak Trade Inspectorate, which examines whether the services provided on the financial market are in accordance with generally binding legal regulations as well as with the obligations set by the law on consumer credit and other loans.

“Taking into consideration the diversity of products on the financial market, such a level of consumer protection is unsystematic,” reads a statement by the Finance Ministry, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “So, the NBS is the ideal institution for carrying out inspection activities and for protecting consumers.”

The strategy also aims to improve out-of-court settlements of disputes between financial institutions and their clients and to increase financial literacy in Slovakia. Most of these measures will take effect in 2015, with further changes expected in 2016 and 2017.

The Pravda daily wrote that the revision, which will force non-banking companies to set interest rates and fees in a way that secures earnings at most two times higher than those of commercial banks, comes into effect in April 2014.

(Source: TASR, Pravda)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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