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Various parties are waving bills to oblige banks to raise interest on savings accounts. Majority party Vooruit has been pushing for high interest rates for some time, and is taking action itself now that it appears that the banks continue to resist. Opposition party N-VA also thinks it is no longer possible for interest rates on loans to rise, but that savings books do not or hardly follow.
Today at 08:59
Finance Minister Vincent Van Peteghem (CD&V) sent a letter to the Febelfin banking federation last week in which he points to the increased social pressure to raise savings rates. The interest on savings books has risen a little bit, but not nearly as much as the interest that the banks themselves nowadays receive for parking their money at the European Central Bank.
That interest is 3.25 percent, which means that about 8 billion euros will flow back to the banks on an annual basis. However, the sector does not like a government-imposed increase in interest rates on savings accounts. Such an intervention could seriously affect the stability of the banking sector, they argue.
Proposals Vooruit and N-VA
Vooruit had previously insisted that interest rates on savings accounts should rise. Due to the resistance of the banks, party leader Melissa Depraetere is now submitting a bill that obliges banks to do so, starting July 1. In concrete terms, she wants to fix the interest on savings accounts in the same way as the deposit rate of the ECB, with a margin of 2 percent. At the moment, the bill would therefore provide for a base interest rate of 1.25 percent and a minimum fidelity premium of 0.30 percent.
N-VA also thinks it is not possible for people to see their savings melt away. “That creates uncertainty that we should not look away from,” says party chairman Peter De Roover. He is also submitting a bill to link the minimum interest rate on savings accounts to the ECB interest rate.
“If the difference is, for example, a maximum of 2 percent, banks should currently offer a savings interest of at least 1.25 percent. That is about twice the average interest rate at the major banks today. That would offer the diligent saver a little more certainty and better protect purchasing power,” says De Roover, who also wants to limit the risk of a deposit flight with his proposal.
Coalition partner Groen, on the other hand, prefers to find a solution within the government, but will come up with a bill itself if that does not work, it sounds.