Belfast Telegraph

Inquiry into bank finance obstacles

Problems encountered by Northern Ireland businesses trying to access finance from banks is to be examined by a new Westminster inquiry.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee probe will analyse a range of issues relating to the region's banking sector.

It will investigate differences in bank structure and governance between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK and the effects of the sale of bank assets in Northern Ireland by the Republic of Ireland's National Asset Management Agency (NAMA).

The inquiry will also examine recent reports that the Treasury is considering breaking the relationship between RBS and Ulster Bank and persuading the Irish Government to take control of the latter.

In a wide-ranging exercise, MPs will assess the treatment of staff made redundant with the demise of the former Irish Bank Resolution Corporation.

In regard to traditional difficulties accessing bank finance in the business sector, the probe will look at the impact this has on moves to re-balance the economy to have more of a private sector orientation.

The committee has asked for written submissions ahead of holding planned public evidence sessions in the autumn.

The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) welcomed the inquiry.

NIIRTA chief executive Glyn Roberts said: "This is a welcome inquiry which we hope will provide solutions about how we improve access to finance for small traders and ensure we have banks fit for purpose which play their role in investing for recovery.

"This inquiry must be about learning from past mistakes and looking to the future. NIIRTA looks forward to submitting evidence to the Committee"

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