Wednesday 21 February 2018

Went queries policy 'ambiguity'

Emmet Oliver Deputy Business Editor

HEAD of the Financial Regulator's financial panel, David Went, is to write to Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, telling him there is "ambiguity'' within the Government about the type of financial companies that Ireland wants to attract.

Members of the industry panel recently commented on a "mis-match'' between the kind of companies the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) wants and those the Department of Finance is prepared to accept.

Minutes of a meeting of the panel released just before Christmas included the following sentence: "There appeared to be a mis-match between the Department of Finance's and the IDA's perception of desired activity for financial services in Ireland."

This impression was formed by members of the panel after a recent meeting with the Tanaiste, Mary Coughlan.

Mr Went, former chief executive of Irish Life & Permanent, was not available for comment yesterday and most other panel members declined to comment on the precise attitude of the Department of Finance to certain funds and companies looking to base themselves here.

While the IDA is responsible for attracting inward investment, it is understood the Department of Finance wants to do an assessment of any major financial companies or funds that locate to Ireland. This is because the Department is worried about "systemic'' risks some companies might represent to Ireland if they get into trouble.

The members of Mr Went's panel want to get the message out that Ireland is "open for business'' and some of them told the Irish Independent last night Ireland needed to work harder to get certain projects to locate here.

Gary Palmer, chief executive of the Irish Funds Industry Association, said: "International financial services has enormous potential to create jobs, but to achieve that potential we collectively have to highlight the benefits Ireland has for investment funds." Leading members of the IFSC are keen that there should not be an over-reaction to problems in the domestic banking sector.

One panel member said: "We don't want to give funds and companies reasons not to come here, we want to give them reasons to come here."

Irish Independent

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