30/08/2011

Wilson Targets Global Economy's Local Impact

The impact of global uncertainly in the financial sector has been under scrutiny at Stormont.

The Executive Finance Minister and local banks have today met to discuss the impact of global financial issues on Northern Ireland

DUP Minister Sammy Wilson - the MP and MLA - met with representatives of Northern Ireland banks to discuss how the uncertainty of global financial markets will impact upon the local economy.

In a discussion that took place amid continuing concern around sovereign debt in Europe and in the USA, slower than expected growth rates were also discussed.

Speaking after meeting the Minister said: "I met with business representatives and other local organisations on 8 August.

"At that meeting everyone recognised that we are very limited in what we can do to influence international financial markets, and that perhaps the biggest concern for us was how to maintain business confidence here.

"At my meeting with the banks today, we discussed how they might work with businesses and the Executive to help with and contribute to building and maintaining that confidence," he explained.

"Our local economy needs a strong and competitive banking sector to help businesses to invest and consumers to access the finance they need. Without this our recovery will be nearly impossible."

He added that, as the Chancellor announced on 9 August, UK Banks would have some new regulatory requirements to ensure that they can come through difficult situations.

"I want to make sure that our local economy takes confidence from the fact that such arrangements are in place.

"I also wanted to press the Banks on their lending to SMEs [smaller firms] to ensure that we share in the Project Merlin commitment and that business customers of our local banks are clear about how banks' decisions on their proposals have been taken," he concluded, noting that Project Merlin is an agreement between the UK Government and the UK's largest banks.

This aims to increase lending, curb bonuses and provide greater transparency on pay.

The five participating banks (Barclay's, RBS, Lloyds, HSBC and Santander) have agreed to increase their lending from the 2010 figure of £179bn to £190bn in 2011. This will include an increase in loans to SMEs from £66bn in 2010 to £76bn in 2011.

(BMcC/GK)

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