Belfast Telegraph

Darling in G20 call for agreement on economy

Chancellor Alistair Darling will urge governments today to continue with the global fiscal stimulus as G20 finance ministers gather in London.

Mr Darling, who has expressed confidence that Britain's economy will start to grow this year, has warned of the dangers of taking recovery for granted by declaring that countries must not be complacent.

Mr Darling, who this weekend will propose setting a March 2010 deadline for tax havens to meet their obligations or face sanctions, said HM Revenue And Customs had requested details of “at least” 100,000 offshore accounts held at 300 financial institutions.

“This will mean billions of extra unpaid tax returning to our country with an expected £1bn from our agreement with Liechtenstein alone,” he said.

As finance ministers prepare for talks, Mr Darling stressed his desire to see agreement on continuing support for the global economy by keeping interest rates low, delivering fiscal support and restoring lending.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown wants a cap on bonuses, warning that financial institutions are still behaving “reprehensibly” despite the credit crunch.

In a letter with French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German chancellor Angela Merkel released, the Prime Minister suggested pay should be limited to a proportion of banks' earnings.

There should also be “clawback” mechanisms to prevent individuals benefiting if their deals go wrong over a longer period of time, according to the leaders.

In a speech to the Scottish CBI last night, Mr Darling said he wanted to see the commitments made on the global stimulus, the International Monetary Fund and offshore tax havens carried forward ahead of the G20 meeting in the US later this month.

He said bank bonuses and pay needed solutions which were “global in scope and practical in action,” and international co-operation was needed to prevent banks playing one country off against another.

“Our aim should not be to prevent rewards where they are deserved, for long-term success or hard work. Rather it must be to prevent excessive pay.”

Belfast Telegraph