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Centralised debt register is still two years away


Finance Minister Michael Noonan

Finance Minister Michael Noonan

Finance Minister Michael Noonan

IT will be at least another two years before a register of all the debts of each consumer and company is in place, it has emerged.

This is despite demands from the EU Commission as far back as 2010 that a new register be set up.

A centralised register is needed to ensure banks and other lenders make informed decisions when handing out loans, and to protect borrowers from excessive debt.

Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath has criticised the delay in setting up the new body, which he said was recommended by the Law Reform Commission, and other bodies, as far back as 2009.

But Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has now admitted that the first phase of the new register is unlikely to be operational until 2016.

Information for the new register will be "supplied by lenders on a phased basis during the course of late 2015 and into 2016", Mr Noonan told the Fianna Fail deputy.

Deputy McGrath said: "It was clear that the lack of centralised source of credit data was a significant factor in disastrous lending decisions by Ireland's banks and financial institutions in respect of individuals and companies."

Mr McGrath said the system of privately operated credit registers and the lack of obligation on financial institutions to cross-check outstanding financial commitments fuelled the credit bubble.

"Many people took out loans and credit cards across a number of financial institutions which they are still struggling to repay.

"Far from acting to prevent this, the banks actively encouraged excessive lending, falling over themselves to offer fast access to credit," he claimed.

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Mr McGrath said demand for credit was growing again, after stagnating for years.

With such a long delay in putting the new register in place there was a risk of bad lending decisions would be repeated, Deputy McGrath said.

The putting in place of the new register is being handled by the Central Bank, with the section for consumer debt to be launched before there is one for commercial debts.

Asked why it was taking so long to put it in place, a spokeswoman for the Central Bank said creating a new credit register is a complex process.

There are more than 500 lenders within the scope of the central credit register, she said.

She added that the timing of when the new register is operational depends on the final detailed obligations to be set out in regulations.

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