Thursday, June 15, 2006

Delay tactics

A white paper on the banking industry was released yesterday, with the recommendations including a range of new measures to ensure that consumers are better informed:
(The proposals) include:
Providing greater and more timely disclosure to consumers in areas such as deposit-type investment products and complaint-handling procedures;
Lowering the mortgage downpayment consumers are required to make to 20 per cent from 25 per cent before the law requires the purchase of mortgage insurance;
Encouraging the adoption of a voluntary consumer protection code;
Reducing the maximum time banks can put a hold on consumer and small business cheques to seven days from the current 10 days, and then reduce the holding period further later to four days;
Streamlining ministerial approval for a broad range of financial sector transactions, such as changes in the ownership or structure of financial institutions;
Making it easier for credit unions to establish co-operative credit associations as a means of expanding their business opportunities; and
Making it easier for some foreign financial institutions to set up shop in Canada.
Jim Flaherty is quoted as approving of the proposals. Which naturally means that rather than actually working to implement any of them, the Cons are holding off on any changes for as long as they can:
While the legislation to implement the proposals will be introduced this fall, the government has extended the sunset date for the existing financial institutions statutes by six months to April 24, 2007, suggesting it does not expect the legislation to pass before next spring, and possibly after the next election.
It remains to be seen whether the Cons' main intention is to avoid having any change in banking on their record, or to claim once again that nothing can be done in a minority Parliament. But it's absolutely clear that the Cons are more interested in making excuses in advance now than in passing needed legislation. And bank customers will have them to thank for half a year more of banking under the same rules which the report aims to improve.

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