Friday 30 September 2016

New powers for Central Bank is welcome prospect

Published 09/02/2016 | 02:30

Fianna Fail spokesperson on finance Michael McGrath. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Fianna Fail spokesperson on finance Michael McGrath. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

The Central Bank has found itself heavily criticised for what were allegedly failures to act decisively at critical moments in the run up to the crash. One lesson of the collapse, internationally, was that when watchdogs neither bite, nor bark, things can go badly wrong if there is the potential to make a smash and grab in the bewildering world of high finance.

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That's in the past now. Today, we have a chance to do things differently. Institutions set up to look out for the consumer can never be caught napping again. The thing is, they must have the powers to make sure that they can protect the public. That is why the announcement that political parties are considering bringing in legislation to give the Central Bank powers to regulate variable mortgage rates is to be welcomed.

According to financial expert Brendan Burgess, who is driving the campaign to give our Central Bank more teeth, some 300,000 borrowers are being overcharged by banks on variable mortgage rates. These are twice the average charged elsewhere in the eurozone.

Fianna Fáil 's Michael McGrath rightly argues that: "The Central Bank needs to start fulfilling its consumer protection role." Indeed it does; but should it also need extra legal muscle, then the legislation should be drawn up without delay.

Irish Independent

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