Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Executive must resolve PMS crisis urgently

In the debate/debacle that is the rescue plan for the Presbyterian Mutual Society, the latest suggestion - that the Presbyterian Church should pay more - hides two massive issues.

Firstly, any monies paid over by the Executive will, in effect, only be a loan and secondly, the Church, which had no legal, though a moral, responsibility for the PMS, is being asked ever-so-subtly to take some of the blame.

In the Assembly recently, Sammy Wilson made it clear that any money given by the Executive will be recouped when the property markets improve. But will the Church get its money back?

Then, of course, when the facts are assessed, what responsibility, beyond a moral duty, does the Church have to the PMS and the savers?

The Church did nothing wrong, they acted in good faith, encouraged members to save with the society and believed, as did the savers, that the PMS was properly regulated.

This has now been shown not to have been the case, so surely the Executive, particularly the DETI, owes the savers and the wider public an explanation?

The Commons treasury committee's report suggests that the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment failed to properly regulate the activities of the PMS.

Clearly, the Westminster Government has fulfilled its pledge; it has given the Executive the money and the go-ahead. So now it is time for the Executive to step up - or is this new £5m suggestion just a scheme to drag out any resolution?

Now I may be too cynical, but what if this new request delayed resolution just long enough so that payouts only started to arrive with savers in the mouth of an election?

RICHARD WILSON

Ballynahinch, Co Down

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