Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Mortgage Arrears: Statements, Questions and Answers
Jim Walsh (Fianna Fail)
I welcome what the Minister of State has said. I do not in any way deny his commitment to resolving this very complex and difficult situation. We do not have time to prevaricate. I hear anecdotally that some people - to what extent I am not sure - because of an expectation that something will be done are trying to position themselves to avail of it. This needs to be watched and checked.
Has anything been done to classify the borrowers? I would categorise them into three groups. Considerable write-offs will be faced with regard to those who are very distressed and will not be in a position to repay the amount of money they owe at any stage in the foreseeable future. There are also those who are over-leveraged and struggle even to make interest repayments and whose debt is of a magnitude that will severely retard them financially and economically for many years. The CSO stated €7 billion of the €11 billion estimate of negative equity involves those aged between 30 and 40 years. Generally such people are the drivers of an economy. If they are distressed to this extent we need to examine what can be done to relieve them of a proportion of this pressure. There are also those whose debt is manageable. These are people whose repayments are 20% or less of their income, which I regard as quite manageable. If it has not already been considered, will the Minister of State consider trying to quantify these categories? Has any evaluation been done of the impact of the first two groups I mentioned on the likelihood of economic recovery? As the Minister of State correctly said this is pinned on growth, which will come from exports and consumption. Those in the first two groups will not be in a position to contribute towards consumption in the foreseeable future. We could be speaking about a period of 15 years.
Has the overall cost of the likely write-down in this area been established? This needs to happen sooner rather than later because of the retarding influence it will have on growth. Has the Government quantified the likely effect on banking? This will have an effect on credit and it could give rise to much uncertainty. A view exists that considerable write-down of personal and business debt will have to take place and some of this has not been faced up to.