Finance Minister to meet with banks to discuss response to Covid-19

A major surge is expected in bad loans as many businesses go under and homeowners struggle to pay their mortgage.

Finance Minister to meet with banks to discuss response to Covid-19

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe is meeting with bank chiefs today to discuss how the sector is responding to the crisis.

A major surge is expected in bad loans as many businesses go under and homeowners struggle to pay their mortgage.

It is understood the country's five main banks - AIB, Bank of Ireland, Permanent TSB, KBC and Ulster Bank - will discuss a plan to address the financial impact on customers, which may include a three-month freeze on mortgage payments on business loans.

Fergal O’Brien from IBEC believes the government needs to treat this as seriously as the bank bailout.

"That is the scale of what is going to be required," said Mr O'Brien.

"If we do that, this can be a very different crisis. We can come out of this quickly if we do the right things.

"We need to keep the essential parts of the economy moving."

Fianna Fáil has called on banks to freeze all commercial loans because of the current crisis.

The party is urging the government to step up its emergency measures to help to deal with the growing crisis.

It is also calling for all commercial rates to be immediately suspended along with utility bills on business premises.

"What we want to say is, if you can't afford the rent and if you can't afford the mortgage then there will be no moves to evict people from homes," said Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly.

"But we want to go further than that and say if you can't afford to pay your mortgage, it's not just that you would be given forbearance but you would not technically be defaulting."

A number of politicians have called on landlords to take measures to help tenants over the coming months.

The Labour Party is calling for emergency legislation to bring in a rent freeze and temporary ban on evictions.

"We had a housing crisis before we had the Covid-19 crisis and Covid-19 has the potential to impact tenants who are in vulnerable tenancies and who could find themselves with notices to quit," said Labour TD Duncan Smith.

"This would have further implications on the public health crisis because if people are evicted, where are they going to go?"

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