Central Bank boss takes pay cut

Central Bank boss takes pay cut

The Governor of the Central Bank will take a voluntary pay cut despite making profits of €1.2bn last year.

Patrick Honohan's salary will fall to €213,000 this year when he gifts €63,324 back to the State. Last year he handed €41,740 back.

Mr Honohan said he could not take credit for the large profits made in 2011, as the majority came from interest on money lent to the State-owned former Anglo Irish bank.

The Central Bank will pay €958m to the Government as a dividend, up from €720m in 2010, after deductions for expenses and earnings.

Elsewhere, the Central Bank's 2011 annual report showed the number of enforcement actions taken against financial institutions almost doubled - from 797 to 1,419.

Nine fines totalling more than €5m were handed out and two disqualifications imposed.

There were 768,917 private residential mortgage accounts held in the Republic of Ireland to a value of €113.5bn by the end of 2011.

But 9.2% of those, more than 70,000, were in arrears of more than 90 days.

There were 196 residential properties repossessed and 412 residential properties voluntarily surrendered or abandoned.

The bank's report on mortgage arrears covering the first three months of this year will be released in the coming days and is expected to show about 80,000 loans - some 10.5% - are behind on payments.

Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson Michael McGrath called on the Government to deal with the mortgage arrears crisis.

"The acceleration in the mortgage arrears crisis over the past 12 months has not been matched by Government action," he said.

"In fact, the uncertainty surrounding the Government response has contributed to the worsening situation."

The Central Bank said it had planned to complete detailed assessments of bank Mortgage Arrears Resolution Strategies (MARS) early this year and provide feedback to institutions on their submissions.

"As the year progresses, financial institutions will be expected to develop options, pilot them and roll out strategies aimed to address the mortgage arrears problem," it said.

"Approximately 25% of all mortgage volumes have either been restructured or are in arrears - so the scale of the problem is significant.

"The bank's objective is to develop and oversee steps to help to achieve a return to financial stability in mortgage loan portfolios, while treating customers fairly."

Mr Honohan said despite international uncertainty, the bank continued to act vigorously in its engagement with financial institutions and external partners to promote recovery in the financial system and the economy as a whole.

"These actions are ultimately aimed at building greater confidence and increasing the prospects for growth to levels that will allow unemployment to reduce and living standards to rise again at modest, but sustainable, rates," he said.

Mr Honohan said major reforms introduced to the domestic banking sector during the year involved restructuring and recapitalising, with progress continued to be made on the major policy issues.

"Under the EU-ECB-IMF Financial Assistance Programme, important elements of Ireland's economic and financial policy framework have been agreed and set out in some detail," he added.

"This programme does not, however, represent a different course from that which Irish policymakers should and would otherwise have chosen."

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