House to pass bill on banks’ abu­sive clauses next month

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Zacharias Zachar­iou, Chair­man of the House Trade Com­mit­tee, said that a new bill to ex­tend the net­work for con­sumer pro­tec­tion in re­gard to the abu­sive clauses im­posed by the bank­ing in­sti­tu­tions will be passed into law in March.

This fol­lows an ear­lier an­nounce­ment by the head of the In­sol­vency Depart­ment that the num­ber of peo­ple declar­ing per­sonal bank­ruptcy had more than halved to 3,000.

Speak­ing af­ter Tues­day’s meet­ing of the Trade Com­mit­tee, Zachar­iou said that the two bills in­tro­duced to reg­u­late the is­sue of the abu­sive clauses im­posed by banks have been merged into one, adding that the in­ten­tion is to in­crease the con­sumer pro­tec­tion in­dex so that bor­row­ers can have good re­la­tions with banks again and clear rules to be set and “no­body can fool no­body”.

He said that a sub-com­mit­tee com­pris­ing MPs Maria Kyr­i­akou (DISY), An­ge­los Vot­sis (DIKO) and Yian­nakis Gavriel (AKEL) has been set up un­der the House Trade Com­mit­tee to re­view the tech­ni­cal terms of the is­sue and unify the political de­ci­sions re­lated to the ex­pan­sion of the gray zone list of the abu­sive clauses, pro­hibit­ing the cal­cu­la­tion of loan in­ter­est on the ba­sis of 360 days in­stead of 365 days, pro­hi­bi­tion of ar­bi­trary con­tract in­ter­rup­tion of any bor­rower with­out any reg­u­la­tions.

He added that the com­mit­tee dis­cussed the is­sues of in­sur­ances, as­sess­ments and de­lays in pay­ments, which will be fur­ther pro­cessed and in­cluded in the fi­nal text which will pro­tect the con­sumer.

In state­ments to the Cyprus News Agency, the Head of the In­sol­vency Depart­ment Yior­gos Karot­sakis said that as of Novem­ber 7, 2015, 7,000 bank­rupt nat­u­ral per­sons have been re­stored, while the re­main­ing 3,000 will be deleted from the reg­is­ter grad­u­ally, pro­vided that they com­ply with cer­tain cri­te­ria in the law.

He said that those who de­clared bank­ruptcy be­fore May 7, 2015, when the in­sol­vency frame­work was voted in, will be ex­empted from bank­ruptcy within a pe­riod of 3.5 years from the date of re­ceipt or­der, while those who went bank­rupt af­ter May 7, 2015 will be re­leased af­ter three years.

Karot­sakis said that the bank­rupt per­son is ex­empted from all ver­i­fi­able debts, pro­vided he acts in good faith and co­op­er­ates fully with the Of­fi­cial Re­ceiver or the Op­er­a­tor for the sale and dis­tri­bu­tion of the bank­ruptcy prop­erty.

He also said that the bank­rupt per­son will not be ex­empted from debts or obli­ga­tions to the state, such as, taxes or fees or amounts due to the Re­pub­lic, the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties or com­mu­ni­ties etc.

Mean­while, Tax­a­tion Com­mis­sioner Yian­nakis Lazarou said that in ad­di­tion to the taxes that have been is­sued in De­cem­ber 2015 as re­gards the ‘La­garde list’ of in­di­vid­u­als with de­posits in over­seas banks, the au­thor­i­ties must ex­am­ine a to­tal of 116 re­main­ing bank ac­counts and is­sue taxes for the years af­ter 2003. Lazarou met with House Speaker Yian­nakis Omirou and briefed him on the progress so far in re­la­tion with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the data and in­for­ma­tion con­tained in the La­garde List.

A press re­lease is­sued by the Par­lia­ment says that Lazarou briefed the House Speaker that upon eval­u­a­tion of all the data at his of­fice, tax­a­tion was is­sued in De­cem­ber 2015 as well as spe­cial de­fense con­tri­bu­tion for the year 2003 for 88 tax­pay­ers, of whom 87 are in­di­vid­u­als and one a le­gal en­tity.

Ac­cord­ing to the same data, the to­tal amount of in­come tax, de­fense tax and charges in De­cem­ber 2015 is ap­prox­i­mately EUR 38.4 mln. The last pe­riod of is­sue of taxes was in De­cem­ber 2015, and tax­pay­ers are en­ti­tled to file an ob­jec­tion un­til the end of Fe­bru­ary.

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