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Head of FSI warns of threat of over-regulation Back  
‘I regret to say that there is a palpable sense of unease within the financial sector in Ireland about what is becoming an over-regulated business environment,’ chairman of Financial Services Ireland (FSI), William Slattery told attendees at the Annual Members’ Dinner of FSI at the Four Seasons Hotel on Tuesday, December 9th.

Slattery, who is also chief executive of funds company State Street International, told the audience, which included the Tanaiste, Mary Harney, that, ‘There has been a dramatic increase in the regulation of our economy in recent years. In public debate in Ireland, more regulation is regarded as good, and, increasingly, regulation is regarded as a panacea for all sorts of public policy issues’.

Slattery went on to say that, ‘Ireland is one of, if not the most globalised economies in the world. We must have serious regard for the competitive impact of regulation - we simply cannot afford to do ‘solo runs’ that impose more restrictive obligations on businesses here, in comparison to other developed, competitor jurisdictions. We are not arguing for a ‘fast and loose’ regime. We need smart, ethical, effective, responsive and competitive regulation. As an example, the Companies (Auditing and Accounting) Bill, as originally published, fell far short of this test.’

‘I believe that the sheer extent and complexity of regulation in recent years has damaged the competitiveness of the economy. I believe that the expectations of politicians, the media and the public, regarding the beneficial impact of regulation, are exaggerated. I am making a special plea to politicians and to regulators to critically examine the cost impact of policy proposals and regulatory actions prior to introduction. I don’t believe that this is currently being done in any meaningful way.’

While Slattery was firm in his stance on the issue of regulation, he did highlight the positive results of the public sector’s engagement with the private sector, such as the adoption of securitisation and pension pooling in the Finance Bill 2003 and the holding companies regime introduced in Budget 2004, which he believes will produce a very positive payback to the Irish economy, and not just in the financial sector.

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