Euro Bank 'Serious Concerns' Over Finance Bill

The European Central Bank (ECB) has warned of "serious concerns" over legislation from the Finance Minister that will provide sweeping powers over the banking sector.

A number of controversial measures have been included in the bill, leading to widespread concern that Brian Lenihan's legislation goes too far.

The ECB over the weekend released a seven-page document signed off by the president of the European Central Bank, Jean Claude Trichet, noting concerns that the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Bill is "insufficiently legally certain" on a number of major issues.

The Bill will give the Minister for Finance the power to take assets from one bank and give them to another, which is of concern to the ECB because banks use assets as collatoral to obtain liquidity.

Meanwhile, Labour's Joan Burton has this morning spoke of concerns over "section 53", which contains a power, vested in the Minister for Finance, to make orders under statutory instrument, “notwithstanding any other enactment”.

Ms Burton said that in basic terms, the section seeks to confer power on the Minister to make orders that override the effect of any other legislation.

"We believe there is nothing in the recitals to this Bill that could justify the Government in attempting to seize the power of making law from the Oireachtas in this way and to seek instead to vest it in the Minister for Finance.

"We do not believe there are any Articles of the Irish Constitution that could justify a usurpation of powers by a Minister of the Government to make laws on behalf of the State, instead of those laws being made by the National Parliament."

President Mary McAleese has called a meeting of the Council of State for tomorrow, to get their opinions on the emergency legislation. The meeting could be a significant step as President McAleese does have the rarely invoked power to veto legislation that she feels is unconstitutional.


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