Troika gives banks until March to resolve quarter of mortgage arrears
THE Government has been told by the troika that banks must have a quarter of mortgage-arrears cases resolved in just over six months' time.
The deadline of the end of next March is in addition to targets that have already been determined for the main lenders by the Central Bank.
The bank told the main lenders that by the end of the year they must have made an offer aimed at resolving long-term arrears to half of approximately 100,000 homeowners who are three months or more behind on repayments.
The troika targets, which have been confirmed by the Department of Finance, go further as it is due to hold discussions with the Government about Ireland's plan to exit the bailout at the end of the year.
The troika has demanded swift action on troubled mortgages, and says a quarter of all long-term arrears cases must be resolved by the end of March. It is understood to be the first in a series of deadlines for resolving problem debts.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan last night sought to play down the news, saying his expectation is for an even speedier resolution.
"The Central Bank has laid out an agenda for the banks. They have to have 20pc of offers made by the end of June and they beat that," he said.
He added that the target was then "30pc by the end of August, 50pc by Christmas and then they have to have settled 25pc by the first quarter (of 2014)".
"There's nothing new in the story, it's only the targets set down by the Central Bank in consultation with me and agreed by the Government – and I hope we beat it," he said.
The heads of AIB, Bank of Ireland, Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank last week reported their progress against the Central Bank target to members of the Oireachtas Finance Committee.
The hearings sparked controversy when it emerged that around 15,000 legal letters threatening repossession have been sent to homeowners.
Meanwhile, Mr Noonan told a Dublin Chamber of Commerce dinner, attended by a select number of company executives, that it was the Government's intention to achieve a successful and durable exit from the bailout programme.
"Significant work on the return to markets has been accomplished as evidenced by the benchmark long-term Irish bond yield, which has fallen by about 10 percentage points in the last two years," he said.
"This has allowed the NTMA (National Treasury Management Agency) to re-engage with the debt markets, including this year's new 10-year benchmark bond, the first since entry into the EU-IMF programme in November 2010."
Mr Noonan said employment was growing, with 34,000 more people in work now than last year.