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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Payment Point Rule Put Off for a Month

The government will not enforce a Central Bank directive to close down thousands of automated payment terminals while a committee of officials is given a month to hammer out a compromise, a source familiar with the matter said Friday.

The directive, which comes into force Monday, would have closed down thousands of the country's 200,000 terminals that accept payments for utility and telephone bills unless their owners processed the money through commercial banks.

"The committee has been given a month to work out ways for individual owners or agents to continue to work side by side with commercial banks," said the source, who was not authorized to speak to the media on the issue.

The last-minute reprieve came after a meeting of government officials Wednesday, including Central Bank chief Sergei Ignatyev, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, IT and Communications Minister Leonid Reiman, chairman of the State Duma Committee on Credit Organizations and Financial Markets Vladislav Reznik, head of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service Igor Artemyev and senior tax officials.

According to an official at the meeting, Ignatyev was in a minority of one in defending the directive, with all other officials asking the Central Bank to withdraw or amend it.

The Central Bank has argued that the directive would regulate the market and encourage owners of terminals to pay taxes, while also fighting money laundering by keeping an eye on cash flows.

Senior Duma deputies are pressing for amendments to the Civil Code that would clearly define the functions of commercial banks in the country's payment acceptance system and allow the terminals to remain switched on.

Angela Esayants, a spokeswoman for Reznik, said there was "a high possibility" that the amendments would be debated in the Duma this week. The Duma is scrambling to get through its legislative agenda in the last weeks of the fall session before the Dec. 2 Duma elections.