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Monday, 26th February 2024
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Ministerial white smoke awaited by all Back  
The Department of Finance remains ‘ready to roll’ with a memorandum to Government and a scheme of a bill to implement a decision on a single regulatory authority for financial services, according to a spokesman.

Both the Minister for Finance, Charlie McCreevy, and the T?naiste, Mary Harney, confirmed to the Finance Dublin Annual Conference that the decision is now between them.

However, neither minister has thrown any light on the reason for the delay. Media speculation that the question of evidence still being taken from the Central Bank at the Moriarty Tribunal remains unsubstantiated from the political level.

Cabinet rules mean that a memorandum to government should be submitted by 11am on the Thursday prior to the Tuesday cabinet meeting. Once the two ministers agree their approach, therefore, the government decision could come quickly afterwards.

A source in the Department of Finance said that the general recommendations of the McDowell Advisory Group had not caused any difficulties. The question remains locational. He said that the Department would be very keen to meet and exceed the 12-month timeframe signalled by the McDowell report for fully implementing any change. Institutional changes would be dealt with quickly, with codification of financial legislation to follow afterwards, he confirmed, thus 'learning from the mistakes' of the UK where codification was holding up the institutional questions in legislation.

This means that at least one new post will be created within the regulator - that of Director of Consumer Enforcement - while, in the absence of a decision, speculation abounds as to who may succeed the present governor of the Central Bank, Maurice O'Connell as effective head of financial supervision. There is also speculation as to whether government ministers will be seeking to have a new, non-Central Bank face to head the new regulator.

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