ICMSA calls for more information on comparing credit repayments

IRISH banking customers have access to less information than other EU small business sectors to compare the overall costs of repaying credit, according to the ICMSA.

The milk suppliers’ group wants the Government to empower the Central Bank or the Central Statistic Office to collate regular charts of comparative rates and charges, incorporating all costs. Dutch, German and Danish consumers have this information readily available.

General secretary Ciaran Dolan said: “It is impossible to get a reliable comparison on the cost of credit in Ireland. Eurostat and the ECB publish information on EU credit rates, but we need a more robust guide to the cost of credit in Ireland.

“We need to know what we are paying for credit. Our colleagues in Denmark can get access to 30-year money at 2-3%. We know that is not available here.”

The ICMSA is due to meet Rabobank, ACC and AIB this week to discuss credit terms for farmers. The group caused a furore earlier this year when it said its members were ready to break their ties with Irish banks. It is edging ever closer to an agreement on new over-seas banking arrange-ments for its members.

The ICMSA also cited the new €1,500 which farmers are paying in solicitors’ and handling fees for security on loans. In the past, farmers lodged their land certificates with the banks as security on loans at no extra cost.

ICMSA president Jackie Cahill said the “shrinking” of the banking sector as foreign banks leave the Irish market will simply reduce competition further.

Mr Cahill said: “What is required is a robust system where the interest rates and other fees charged by Irish banks are collated and published together with information on similar costs in other EU countries.

“Given the enormous increase in resources that have been put in place in the Central Bank and Financial Regulator there is more than adequate personnel to carry out this work. The availability of credit is one thing, but availability at competitive rates is a key issue and there is a widespread view that banks will use every opportunity at restructuring to hike up interest rates charged to customers.”

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