Archive for the ‘Banking’ Category

TIME FOR ‘PLAN G’: STOP FAILED AUSTERITY AND INVEST IN THE BILLION POUND GREEN ECONOMY

March 22, 2013

CarolineRESPONDING TO THE BUDGET ANNOUNCEMENT, GREEN MP CAROLINE LUCAS (BRIGHTON PAVILION) SAID: “Amidst the tax breaks for shale gas and boastful roadbuilding pledges, there is one huge green economy-shaped hole in this flailing Chancellor’s Budget.

“With the UK’s green economy now worth over £120bn – 9% of GDP – providing nearly a million jobs and generating a third of our most recent economic growth according to the CBI, it is completely inexplicable that George Osborne keeps pretending it doesn’t exist.

“Given the huge potential of green industries and clean energy generation to provide British jobs and prosperity, as well as the obvious environmental benefits they will deliver, it’s time to drop austerity and go for Plan G.

“There’s no doubt that the cuts have failed – now we need urgent investment in nationwide green infrastructure to stabilise the economy, tackle the environmental crisis and deliver clean and secure energy for the future.”

TAX BREAKS FOR SHALE GAS “A COSTLY GAMBLE”

LUCAS CONTINUED: “This should also mean the Chancellor ditching his irrational obsession with gas. It’s outrageous that the Government is willing to gift yet more tax breaks to companies drilling for hard-to-reach shale – a costly gamble that risks keeping the UK addicted to polluting fossil fuels at precisely the time we should be leaving them in the ground.

“A Government which really cared about bringing energy bills under control and improving energy security would put its money on renewables – where the costs are predictable and falling – and agree to recycle carbon tax revenue into a jobs-rich energy efficiency programme, rather than deepening our dependence on gas, where prices are set to keep rising.

“Going all-out for offshore wind, for example, instead would save £20bn by 2030, create 70,000 more jobs, and lead to both lower climate emissions and lower fuel bills.

“And with the new nuclear facility at Hinkley announced yesterday expected to come with a £14bn price tag, this Government should urgently think again before ploughing ahead with its deeply misguided nuclear strategy. For the cost of one nuclear reactor, it’s estimated that 7 million households could be lifted out of fuel poverty.

“With the negotiations for a strike price for nuclear operators getting on for double the current price of electricity – to be paid by households and businesses already struggling with high bills – it’s clear that the main beneficiaries of this policy will be EDF and the French state.”

CORPORATIONS GET TAX CUTS AS MILLIONS STRUGGLE WITH RISING HOUSEHOLD BILLS

“With the Joseph Rowntree Foundation warning that tax rises, welfare cuts, and wages freezes will push over 7 million children below the breadline in the next two years, it’s scandalous that this millionaire Government is still so reluctant to make the richest in our society pay their fair share of tax.

“While millions across the country struggle to pay rising household bills, the Government is cutting tax for corporations like Amazon, Starbucks and Google – when they choose to pay it at all – to 25% next month, 23% by 2014 then 20% the year after.

“The General Anti Avoidance Rule announced today will not be enough to stop the tax dodgers, as the tax QCs Graham Aaronson who worked it up has admitted it will be “narrowly focused”, and apply only to the “most egregious tax avoidance schemes”.

“If the Government was really serious about cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion, including shutting down tax havens, it would have supported my Private Members Bill requiring all companies to publish what they earn.

“It would also seek a strong international agreement to force all multinationals to report their tax practices transparently. HMRC has a duty to prosecute multinational companies who do not pay their taxes in the UK and it’s right that offenders are publically named and shamed.”

Can We Bank On 2013?

January 6, 2013

Natalie BennettIt’s the season for pundits to pontificate on the year to come – hoping that no one in 12 months time will be doing the “how did they do?” column in return. But looking into 2013, there’s one certainty that seems, from a broader historical perspective, surprising.

It’s that UK banking and finance regulation will be a huge, continuing issue. Surprising? Well it is when you consider that it’s more than five years since the queues started forming outside Northern Rock branches and it became obvious that there was a deep rottenness, a danger to all of us, at the heart of the British banking system. You might have thought, have hoped, that by now there’d have been some real action and real change.

Yet, still, we’re debating the basic points – Chinese walls, electricifed Chinese walls, or complete separation of casino and high street arms, capital reserves, controls on complex financial instruments, bonuses.

We’ve made precious little progress

“Light touch regulation” as a phrase has gone right out of fashion, but we’ve made precious little progress on replacing it. That’sBanks despite the fact that the “light touch” impacts are everywhere we turn – the PPI mis-selling scandal, the Libor manipulation, money-laundering …. the list could go on and on.

And above all there’s the fact that there’s no solution been imposed to the “too big to fail” problem; we – that’s Britain, you and I, have been seriously impoverished by the banking crash (yes, remember the prime cause of the deficit, and there’s no guarantee it won’t happen again).

Give it an overall score and the result is far from reassuring – according to the latest Country Risk survey from Euromoney, Britain is on 6/10 – worse not just than France and Germany but also Turkey, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

So what needs to happen? Well first, we need to forget Chinese walls, electrified or not, and go straight to a clear separation between retail banking and high risk trading. Then we need to address the too big to fail problem, urgent and critically important. No bank operating in the UK should be permitted to have access to more than 10% of the domestic market or 5% of the global market.

Then we can add in a financial transaction tax. Lots is made of the money this might raise – easy to develop a shopping list of hospitals, schools, international aid … but what it should be trying to do is to reduce speculation and the types of trading that are pure gambling or gaming.

We need a new type of banking

On a bigger scale, we need a new type of banking, a system of local community banks, growing out of our flourishing mutual banking sector (i.e. building societies and credit unions), that are owned by their members without external shareholders. Once – before about mid-2007 – all of this would have sounded radical.

Community Banking Month_0When the Green Party said things like this, we were fighting the tide (“community banking” was important in our 1987 manifesto). But now, I need only quote a Financial Times editorial from last month: “The desire to reinvent banking as a high-growth, high-return business has belied its true social function as a utility. Its proper role is simply to channel capital from those with savings to spare to those with investments to fund.”

Maybe 2013 will be the year that we finally take steps towards the banking system that we need to secure our economic future. The need for radical change is clear – after five years it is time for some action.

Source – http://thebackbencher.co.uk/can-we-bank-on-2013/  by Natalie Bennett.