Bank fees rise close to CPI

The overall cost of financial services to households has increased only marginally more than inflation over the past five years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The bureau devised an experimental financial services index which rose 18.9 per cent between September 1998 and December 2003, during which time the CPI increased 17.7 per cent. The ABS index measured financial institutions' fees and charges, taxes and stamp duties on certain transactions, fees on share and real estate transactions and the implicit charges in interest rate margins between lending and borrowing rates. The ABS plans to include financial services prices when the 15th series of the CPI is introduced in September 2005.