A BILL SEEKING to provide government financial regulators additional powers for “surveillance, examination, enforcement, adjudication, and rule-making” for the protection of financial consumers may be approved at the committee level before Congress adjourns on March 13.

“We want to have thorough discussion and consultation because we are giving powers to the regulators…there may be powers that is too much and there could be powers that if not regulated, can be abused. But what is important in the end, we are able to protect the consumer without unduly burdening anyone,” Quirino Rep. Junie E. Cua, who also chairs the House committee on banks and financial intermediaries, told BusinessWorld on the sidelines of a committee hearing on Monday.

House Bill 6143 or the Financial Consumer Protection Act mandates the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Securities and Exchange Commission, Insurance Commission and the Cooperative Development Authority as implementing agencies “pursuant to authority granted under their respective charters.”

The bill also aims to ensure that appropriate mechanisms are in place for the “protection of financial consumers under conditions of transparency, fair and sound market conduct, and rational and effective handling of consumer disputes.”

According to Mr. Cua, one of the issues the committee encountered is to properly define “reasonable pricing” in setting the prices of financial products and services.

“’Yung pricing kasi may issue on the determination of unreasonable price. So ’yung unreasonable price kasi is so subjective. It may be unreasonable to you, but reasonable to others. It’s very subjective. That’s why we need to fine-tune the language,” he said.

The chairman also said his committee will ensure the bill will deliver the “intent and the spirit of what the regulators need” to prevent the issues of overpricing.

Kasi free market tayo, dapat pricing is determined by market. But when market is no longer free then we need some kind of mechanism to protect consumers,” he said.

A similar bill was approved on third and final reading in the House of Representatives during the 17th Congress but was not enacted. — Genshen L. Espedido