Call banks' bluff, minister urges
Northern Ireland's new finance minister has shown he's not taking the banks' word at face value by calling on businesses in need of finance to ask for it.
Simon Hamilton was speaking after meeting with pub industry representatives in Ballynahinch who told him a lack of lending is leaving their firms hamstrung.
"We need to test the banks on this," the minister said. "I would like to encourage all businesses to come forward and apply for the money they need to invest and if they are turned down to ask why and to appeal that decision through the independently operated process that is in place."
His comments come amidst claims from nearly all the banks operating in Northern Ireland that they have money and want to lend, but aren't being approached.
Mr Hamilton added: "Specific concerns were raised about bank lending and improving the availability of finance at reasonable terms. This is critical for our businesses and I assured those representatives I am and will continue to press this point with both the banks and the Government."