State must pri­ori­tise ci­ti­zen wel­fare over that of banks

Irish Examiner - - Finance - Paul Mills

As we know, our near­est neigh­bour and one of our largest trad­ing part­ners de­cided at a ref­er­en­dum last June to exit the EU.

It will the first coun­try since the in­cep­tion of the orig­i­nal EEC to exit. In do­ing so, it has gen­er­ated a myr­iad of is­sues that must be re­solved be­fore it fi­nally makes its way out.

Of­fi­cially, it must be fully out by March 2019. How­ever, pro­cras­ti­na­tion and jock­ey­ing for po­si­tion have en­sured that the full ne­go­ti­a­tions for Brexit, as it has been termed, will re­ally not com­mence un­til Oc­to­ber.

Its exit was mas­ter­minded by a very eclec­tic group, in­clud­ing gov­ern­ment politi­cians, de­spite the fact that the UK gov­ern­ment wished to stay within the union.

I’m sure some of us ask our­selves ev­ery so of­ten if we have ben­e­fit­ted to the fullest ex­tent from our mem­ber­ship of the EU. So far it would ap­pear that we are fully be­hind the EU project but a bad Brexit or the re­turn of the full bor­der be­tween both parts of this is­land could change the equa­tion con­sid­er­ably.

Notwith­stand­ing, there are still run­ning sores that our gov­ern­ment has failed to ad­dress ex­cept with hype and more hype.

Over the last decade, folk even in rea­son­ably well-paid jobs have found it dif­fi­cult to get a mort­gage.

Their abil­ity to start that jour­ney of own­ing one’s own home, which is the ma­jor am­bi­tion of the vast bulk of Ir­ish peo­ple, was firstly stymied by hor­ren­dously high prices and now by fi­nan­cial-based re­stric­tions on get­ting ac­cess to a loan.

The Cen­tral Bank was faced with a num­ber of is­sues fol­low­ing the re­ces­sion.

The first was the huge num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als de­fault­ing on their mort­gage, those try­ing to hold on but find­ing pay­ing the in­ter­est and cap­i­tal more and more dif­fi­cult, and more lat­terly the need to make sure that those tak­ing out mort­gages could ac­tu­ally re­pay the money they owed.

One of the neg­a­tive sides of Europe is that any time vested in­ter­ests in our econ­omy risk be­ing im­pacted by an EU de­ci­sion our gov­ern­ment looks for and gets a dero­ga­tion. Ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tion tax is an ob­vi­ous case. An­other is that of in­ter­est rates where the banks have been per­mit­ted to not pass on in­ter­est rate cuts that have been passed across other mem­ber states.

The banks’ ex­cuse, sup­ported by gov­ern­ment and man­darins alike, is that we must have a strong bank­ing sys­tem.

Keep­ing the banks’ mar­gins on in­ter­est con­sid­er­ably higher than Euro­pean banks is claimed as help­ing to im­prove the banks’ bot­tom line and liq­uid­ity faster.

Un­for­tu­nately, though, this is the same bank­ing sys­tem which brought us to the sorry state from which we have still not fully ex­ited.

This is the bank­ing sys­tem which cost our tax­pay­ers and our econ­omy tens of bil­lions of eu­ros.

And this is the bank­ing sys­tem that con­tin­ues to pay its se­nior staff and al­leged risk tak­ers most hand­somely. It is also the bank­ing sys­tem which shows lit­tle com­pas­sion to those debtors in trou­ble.

“The last decade, folk in well-paid jobs have found it dif­fi­cult to get a mort­gage

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