Azerbaijan prepares action plan to enhance protection of financial services consumers' rights

Azerbaijan, Baku, Nov. 29 / Trend A. Akhundov /

The Azerbaijani Central Bank (CBA) has prepared an action plan to strengthen the protection of financial services consumers' rights in the country. The plan has been prepared within the modernisation of the financial sector which is implemented by the World Bank (WB) and Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) in cooperation with the Azerbaijani government.

This statement was made by head of the Consumer Protection Department under the Central Bank Elshan Karimov at the workshop on Wednesday. It was held on the occasion of the beginning of fulfilling a component of consumer protection and financial literacy of the capital market modernisation project.

He said that a working group that prepared the programme for the protection of consumers of banking services given the recommendations of international experts has been created under the Central Bank within the project.

The action plan involves improving the legal framework for the protection of consumer rights, preparing new methods and standards in this area, using effective tools to inform the population, learning international experience and using it to make changes to the legislation.

"A communication strategy aimed at informing the public will be developed within the plan," Karimov said.

He added that operations are underway to activate the service to receive consumer appeals in electronic form on the website of the Central Bank. A hotline is also available.

Head of the Public Insurance Supervision Service under the Finance Ministry Mahir Abdullayev also spoke at the workshop. He said that the violation of the rights of consumers in insurance services may be caused mainly by a lack of financial resources with the insurance companies.

He said that the issue of financial stability of insurance companies is constantly in the spotlight of the State Service.

According to the current legislation, the capital of insurance companies in Azerbaijan must not be less than five million manat, reinsurance and 10 million manat as from Jan. 1, 2013. The minimum capital of insurance companies was set at three million manat and reinsurance six million manat since Jan. 1, 2011 and at four and eight million manat respectively since early 2012.

The World Bank allocated a loan worth $12 million to Azerbaijan with a total project cost of $15.8 million to implement the capital market modernisation project. The project will be financed by backing from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD part of the WB).

The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has approved technical assistance worth $1.6 million for the two components within the capital market development project in Azerbaijan. These are the improvement of the legal framework and the development of new financial instruments to promote supply on the market.

As of September 2012, around $480,000 of the credit granted by the bank for this project was used and the date published on the official website of the World Bank.

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