Business Personal Finance

Thursday 21 June 2018

Bankers, forget about setting up a quango and just cut your exorbitant interest rates

The initiative comes from AIB, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank, Permanent TSB and KBC Bank. The first steps will be to set up a selection panel to hire the chair, chief executive and a board. (Stock photo)
The initiative comes from AIB, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank, Permanent TSB and KBC Bank. The first steps will be to set up a selection panel to hire the chair, chief executive and a board. (Stock photo)
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Bankers seldom miss a chance to take your breath away. The latest wheeze is the coming together of the five main banks to set up a new Banking Standards Board.

Hot on the heels of the tracker mortgage scandal - one of the greatest financial rip-offs in Irish history - and this is the best the bankers can come up with.

The new board is to be modelled on a similar body established by financial institutions in the UK in 2015.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe welcomed the initiative. He said the new board "aims to start the process of rebuilding trust and confidence in the industry" following the tracker-mortgage scandal.

The board will not be allowed to act as a lobbying or representative organisation. It will be made up of experts from across society. It will be chaired by an independent person from outside the banking sector who is deemed to have "the personal respect, credibility and trust of citizens".

The board is intended to promote the highest ethical business standards possible by the sector as well as to drive an improvement in culture across the industry and develop a code of practice.

The initiative comes from AIB, Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank, Permanent TSB and KBC Bank. The first steps will be to set up a selection panel to hire the chair, chief executive and a board.

Really, you could not make this stuff up.

It has all the hallmarks of a cunning plan dreamed up by an expensive public relations adviser, prompting an idea to the banks to get some positive PR.

The cost of setting up this needless quango will be borne by the banks, but you can bet your bottom dollar it will really end up being funded by banking customers.

Remember that the five banks had to be dragged kicking and screaming to admit to the tracker scandal.

And all of this comes on the back of a mortgage arrears crisis that shows no signs of abating, and for which bankers share blame, and it is in the context of a State with some of the highest variable mortgage rates in the eurozone, and some of the highest current account charges.

Banks have closed branches all over, laid off thousands workers, and replaced some of them with contract staff.

No wonder they are up to three times more profitable than the average for major eurozone banks.

The interest rates they charge individual customers are the highest in the eurozone, according to the ECB figures.

So bankers, forget the quango and just cut your rates.

Sunday Indo Business

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