Page last updated at 10:31 GMT, Tuesday, 18 September 2012 11:31 UK

Funding for lending scheme

Constraints on the availability of finance and lending in Northern Ireland are "much greater and more complex than other parts of the UK", the finance minister said on 18 September 2012.

Sammy Wilson said he was limited in his ability to order banks to provide greater transparency as banking matters were not devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

"I have become increasingly frustrated at the lack of attention to regional banking issues and the specific challenges we face here in Northern Ireland," he said.

"The executive does not have the power to require the banks to supply information and this has led to a guessing game over the current state of our banking sector."

Mr Wilson was updating the assembly on a new Funding for Lending scheme, launched by the Westminster government on 1 August 2012.

It allows participating banks and building societies to borrow at lower rates on the condition that they increase lending to households and businesses.

The minister said the scheme was operational in one local bank and the other main banks had been in discussions with the Bank of England regarding possible participation.

Mr Wilson said the Westminster government's initiatives to help improve lending and liquidity in the banking system had not been effective in Northern Ireland.

He said this was because Northern Ireland's banking sector was "fundamentally different" from the rest of the UK as local banks were subject to the decisions of parent banks.

The minister added that the "property boom and bust" affected Northern Ireland more, and the situation was further complicated by the role of Irish government's National Asset Management Agency (NAMA).

NAMA has a property portfolio of more than £3bn in Northern Ireland.


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