Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

State of Republic’s banking laid bare

The scale of the Republic's crippling financial debt mountain can be laid bare today — and it leaves taxpayers footing the bill for a multi-billion euro bailout.



Finance Minister Brian Lenihan outlined the extent of the grave challenges ahead as the state took control of almost the entire banking sector.

Every man, woman and child in the state will have to pay an average of €1,300 every year just to service interest payments on borrowings to pay for the bank bailout, estimated to cost €40bn.

In what will be remembered as a Black Tuesday for taxpayers;

Mr Lenihan confirmed a fresh €16bn bailout of the country's scandal-hit banks,

The extent of the country's toxic loans were revealed as the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) took over the banks' bad debts,

The Financial Regulator effectively took control of Quinn Direct after discovering a massive €454m hole in the insurance company's finances.

Consumers were warned they face having a levy imposed on insurance premiums as a result of the High Court move to put Quinn Insurance into administration.

In his Dail address, Mr Lenihan launched a scathing attack on senior banking figures, accusing them of making “appalling” decisions that would cost the taxpayer dearly for years to come.

Mr Lenihan also revealed the state may have to pump a staggering €18bn into the now nationalised Anglo Irish Bank (AIB).

The Government will initially provide €8.5bn — which will be paid over a number of years to reduce the cost to the Exchequer — to Anglo. But it could have to inject a further €10m to the bank over time.

The figures for the capital injections needed by the banks were prepared by Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield, after examination of the banks' accounts.

He was unable to give a firm figure for Anglo because of the scale of its losses. The €18bn estimate was given by Mr Lenihan, who said there were still “significant uncertainties” over the losses at the disgraced bank.

Mr Lenihan said it was “probable” the country's largest bank would end up owned by the state.

However, AIB will be given time to try to devise the “preferable solution” of remaining in private hands.

Bank of Ireland will need €2.7bn in new capital, but it is hoping to raise most of this from private sources, so that the state remains a minority shareholder.

Meanwhile, the National Treasury Management Agency will today brief the world's major credit ratings agencies on its bank rescue plan as they attempt to head off any further damaging downgrades. Despite the enormous sums involved in the bailout, Mr Lenihan claimed the country is now fiscally stable and credible and insisted the scale of the damage is now known.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen refused to accept any responsibility for the banking crisis yesterday. He said: “The idea that Ireland would've been immune to what has happened in relation to the total meltdown of the international financial system, it's time that we actually recognised that this country couldn't be immune from those developments.”

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