Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Hamilton talks the talk, but can he walk the walk on banking?

There's a happy medium between hitting the ground running and taking stock when you start a new rush into changes without proper consideration and you risk being compared to a bull in a china shop.

Take too long to make decisions and you may be seen as ineffectual and hear the calls for resignation ringing in your ears.

It's especially true for a finance minister, one which holds the strings of the biggest purse in town.

Simon Hamilton seems to be managing to walk the fine line between the extremes although only time will tell whether he's been operating at the right speed and in the right direction.

Certainly his focus on Northern Ireland's unique banking situation is a welcome development, particularly as it doesn't yet seem as if banks and potential borrowers are singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to access to finance.

It's probably not a good idea to use a religious analogy to describe Northern Ireland's banking situation.

But you would certainly need some kind of divine intervention to get the flow of money going again with any sort of throughput.

Our mix of Dublin and London-based banks means that any attempt by him to open up the lending spigot needs the co-operation of both governments.

That's been demonstrated by the Bank of England's funding for lending scheme which has been successful here, but not as successful as elsewhere in the UK because the scheme doesn't apply as rigidly to the Dublin banks.

So it's good to see the minister also meeting with his opposite number in the south to tackle an issue which has been apparent for a long time.

The question is, will the words lead to action?I

Time, again, will tell.

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