Belfast Telegraph

Banking sector slowing recovery, says Finance Minister Simon Hamilton

BY DAVID TORRANCE

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton believes the banking sector presents the "biggest impediment" to Northern Ireland capitalising on "early signs of economic recovery".

He also told MPs at Westminster of his concern that the "access to finance issue" could "slow up" or even reverse economic recovery in Northern Ireland.

Appearing before the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee, Mr Hamilton said "the biggest impediment to us ... is the banking situation".

He explained: "What we continue to get from business, from industry, from manufacturing firms is they are still having severe difficulties in accessing the finance they need to invest in their companies in order to seek the opportunities that are provided by growing markets.

"The biggest worry I have in terms of heading towards economic recovery is that this slows up or even puts us backwards."

Mr Hamilton also said the problem for Northern Ireland's four main banks was "to a large extent a different problem to that on the mainland because of the property issue".

He added: "It's very unusual for a unionist politician to say but our problem is more Irish than British in many respects ... if we don't get to grips with the property issue then I think we're going to have long-term sustainable problems."

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