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access to cash

Central Bank bosses: 'It's clear cash is still needed and wanted by people in society'

Governor Gabriel Makhlouf says the new legislation is important.

CENTRAL BANK OFFICIALS have said it’s clear that cash is still needed and wanted by people in society.

Appearing before the Oireachtas Finance Committee today, Central Bank Governor Gabriel Makhlouf said he will work with the Department of Finance on implementing plans to increase access to cash for the public.

In January Finance Minister Michael McGrath got Cabinet approval for the ‘Access to Cash Bill’ which aims to ensure there is no further decline in the number of ATMs in towns and villages around the country.

The plan aims to restore the number of ATMs to 2022 levels, before Ulster Bank and KBC left the banking market.  

The Bill requires compliance with regional criteria that set the minimum numbers of ATMs per 100,000 people, and the proportion within 10km of an ATM and a cash service point (banks or post offices).

Where there are locations within a region where particular difficulties arise in accessing cash, the Central Bank will assess such cases and, where warranted, may require designated entities to address the issue, it is understood.

The governor said the Central Bank welcomes the draft legislation on maintaining access to cash.

“We believe is an important public policy intervention. It is clear that there is a societal demand and need for cash, and the Central Bank – along with the rest of the Eurosystem – remains committed to the provision of cash,” he said. 

Inflation and rates

Speaking about inflation, the governor said he would “expect to see some change” in interest rates if inflation keeps falling. 

He said he is “open minded” as to where ECB interest rates will end up.

Makhlouf said the Irish economy would continue to grow in the coming years “albeit at a slower pace”.

The Central Bank deputy governor Derville Rowland was involved in a heated exchange with Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty over the legal loophole which has emerged which means some mortgage holders who are with vulture funds not being able to make a complaint to the financial ombudsman.

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