News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Friday 20th May 2016

The Central Bank is ‘delaying approval of new Irish lender’ “Frank Money”

     

Brendan Burgess of the Fair Mortgage Campaign claimed regulators have constantly said competition was the solution to high variable rates.

The Central Bank has been accused of hypocrisy for its failure to so far approve new lender Frank Money.

Brendan Burgess of the Fair Mortgage Campaign claimed regulators have constantly said competition was the solution to high variable rates.

But he claimed the regulators had already taken seven months to authorise the new lender.

The new lender is awaiting approval from the Central Bank to enter the mortgage market, and will be targeting switchers and new borrowers once it gets authorisation.

Frank Money is aiming to have mortgage rates of 2.8pc – some 0.6pc lower than the new AIB variable rate, which will be the lowest in the market.

According to the Central Bank, the average variable rate for new buyers is 3.64pc currently.

This compares with an average rate of 2pc being charged by banks across the Eurozone.

For existing homeowners, the average variable rate being charged by banks here is 3.93pc.

Mr Burgess said a vulture fund could come in and buy a mortgage book and not be required to be authorised or licensed by the Central Bank.

“Yet Frank Money wants to introduce competition, which we all agree is needed, and the Central Bank has been sitting on the application for six to seven months,” Mr Burgess said.

“If they were serious, they would have this sorted out in a couple of weeks.

“It is hypocritical of the Central Bank to say we need more competition in the mortgage market and yet delay approving a potential new entrant,” he said.

There was no comment when the claims were put to the Central Bank.

Earlier this week, the Government avoided legislative defeat by not challenging to a vote the Fianna Fáil bill giving the Central Bank the power to regulate mortgage rates.

The Government did not press its amendment that the bill be referred to a pre-legislative stage. It now goes to committee stage.

Banking analysts now expect interest rates to fall. John Cronin, of Investec, said: “We expect further compression in mortgage rates over the course of the rest of 2016 and beyond.”

Irish factory gate prices down 0.4% in April 2016

    

The price of energy products decreased by 24.3% in the year since April 2015

New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that monthly wholesale or factory gate prices decreased by 0.4% in April.

The CSO said that the annual percentage change showed a decrease of 3.8% in April, compared with a decrease of 3.3% in the year to March.

The most significant changes on a monthly basis were increases in the prices of fish and fish products, which rose by 4.8%, while basic metals increased by 3.7% and meat and meat products rose by 0.9%.

Decreases were seen in dairy products prices, which fell by -2.6% in the month.

Basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations were also 1.1% while other food products including bread and confectionary eased by 0.5%.

The CSO noted that the price of energy products decreased by 24.3% in the year since April 2015, while petroleum fuels decreased by 12.2%.

It also said that all building and construction materials prices increased by 1.1% in the 12 months to April.

Ireland’s families opt for cheaper health insurance cover to cut costs?

    

  Health insurance broker Dermot Goode (left pic), said the decrease in the average spent on premiums indicates that consumers are becoming more proactive in terms of digging out the best deals and reviewing their cover each year.

Irish families have moved to cheaper and better-value health insurance in response to the rising cost of cover.

New figures from the Health Insurance Authority (HIA) show that the average premium was €1,173 for an adult last year.

This is down from the average of €1,200 paid in the previous year.

Some 2.12 million people now have health insurance, up 4,000 since last December, the HIA has said.

The move by families to seek better value, with others downgrading their cover, comes despite ongoing premium increases.

VHI pushed up the cost of more than 50 plans on May 1, with rises of between 1pc and 7pc, the HIA said.

Laya Healthcare increased premiums on Essential Connect Family and ended a special offer on children’s premiums.

GloHealth raised the cost of 37 plans at the start of this month, while Aviva increased the cost of nine of its plans this month.

These rises come after increases last December, and a string of other hikes last year.

Health insurance broker Dermot Goode, of TotalHealth¬Cover.ie, said the decrease in the average spent on premiums indicates that consumers are becoming more proactive in terms of digging out the best deals and reviewing their cover each year.

“However, four out of five consumers are still insured on the wrong plans and are paying too much.

“Reviewing your cover every two and three years is not enough – you must do this annually to keep pace with all the changes and bag the best deals as you would car or home cover.”

There are around 420 different plans from the four insurers.

Chief executive of the HIA Don Gallagher said the market was dynamic, with a range of polices and price ranges.

“There is value to be had, but consumers need to actively consider what cover they want and be prepared to switch insurers to get cover at the right price.”

Mr Gallagher added that if consumers have not looked at their health insurance plan in the last two to three years, they may not be getting the best value available in the market for the level of cover they want.

He said there was a recovery in the health insurance market in terms of the numbers insured.

The four insurers got a boost this time last year when close to 100,000 people took out cover for the first time.

This was to avoid penalties imposed on those over the age of 34 who take out cover for the first time as part of lifetime community rating.

Mr Goode said that once the numbers who took out cover to avoid the penalties is stripped out, the market has largely remained stagnant.

“We are still a long way off the 2.3 million insured in 2008,” he said.

Total health insurance premiums paid in 2015, gross of tax relief, amounted to €2.4bn, which was an increase of 0.5pc from 2014.

Based on population estimates, around 45.9pc of the population held private health insurance at the end of March 2016.

At its peak in 2008, close to 51pc of the population held private health insurance.

New EU rules ban 10 pack cigarette’s, & increase size of health warnings

Ireland had already introduced similar measure against packets of 10 in 2007

      

Irregular shaped tobacco product packs that can potentially obscure the visibility of health warnings have been banned in the EU.

Packs of 10 cigarettes are being withdrawn from sale and the size of graphic health warnings on tobacco products is increasing as part of EU rules coming into force from today.

A new directive by the European Commission (EC) means member states must comply with regulations that ban the sale of smaller or promotional packs, which are perceived as being more attractive to younger smokers due to the reduced cost. The minimum carton size will now be 20.

Ireland had already introduced a similar measure in 2007.

Graphic photos and text outlining the adverse consequences of smoking must now cover 65 per cent of the front and back of cigarette and roll your own tobacco packs.

Irregular-shaped packs that can potentially obscure the visibility of health warnings have been banned.

Ireland is one of 11 countries – including the United Kingdom, Germany andItaly – that have already transposed the directive into national law; from tomorrow, countries that have not done so face infringement proceedings from the EU.

Vendors must also cease trading tobacco products with “characterising flavours” such as vanilla or candy, but flavoured products that have an overall market share of greater than 3 per cent will remain available until 2020.

The EC has said it will establish a procedure for determining what constitutes flavoured tobacco products and will impose bans accordingly.

The tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide labelling currently on packs will be replaced with an information message saying: “Tobacco smoke contains over 70 substances known to cause cancer.”

The directive also includes changes to the regulation of e-cigarettes, which must now abide by maximum nicotine concentrations and maximum cartridge volumes.

Health warnings will become mandatory for e-cigarettes, informing consumers that they contain nicotine and should not be used by non-smokers. E-cigarette packaging will include a list of all ingredients contained in the product and nicotine concentration.

Furthermore, the EC has outlined new measures to combat the illicit trade of cigarettes across Europe, and an EU-wide tracking and tracing system will now be established.

Legitimate tobacco products will contain added security features, including holograms to aid the detection of illegal or counterfeit supplies.

The more stringent regulations aim to reduce the estimated 700,000 premature deaths across member states each year caused by smoking.

Ireland became the first country in the EU to introduce legislation for plain cigarette packaging in 2015, but the policy has not yet been implemented due to protracted legal wrangling.

Great fears about extremely rare ‘blue moon’ event this SATURDAY night

Which could signal doom from above?

    

A concerned Bonnie (left pic) over a Blue Moon in previous years 

A very rare ‘blue moon’ event this Saturday night has left mystics fearing it is an omen that? “something really bad is about to happen on Earth.”

Paranormal YouTubers have been posting videos ahead of the event with some saying “something just doesn’t feel right”

A blue moon is a second full moon in the same calendar month.

But Saturday’s event is even rarer as it also a fourth full moon in one season – the period between a solstice and an equinox, as there would usually be just three.

It happens every three years, and this particular blue moon was known as the full flower moon by Native Americans.

During the event, which will be visible across the UK at around 10.14pm on May 21, the moon does not actually go blue.

But the scarcity of the phenomena gave rise to the saying about rare events happening once in a blue moon.

Bonnie, a tarot card reader on The Sacred Love Oracle YouTube channel based in Canada, said in a video she felt “negative energies” and it may be due to planetary alignments and the “full Moon”.

In a video entitled Full Moon/Blue Moon May 21 2016 Oracle Special, she said: “I’m going to start with the oracle card for this full moon for this month

“There are energies now that are bothering me, I am becoming more sensitive.

“There is something there that is not really great for everyone

“Something is wrong, something is not right. I feel something is bad.”

While Bonnie couldn’t seem to put her finger on it, the Nemesis Maturity channel warned the blue moon event could be associated with more bizarre behaviour than is commonly linked to a typical full moon.

The channel said in a video: “Since ancient times, full moons have been associated with odd or insane behaviour, including sleepwalking, illegal activity, fits of violence and, of course, transforming into werewolves.

“In 18th-century England, people on trial for murder could campaign for a lighter sentence on grounds of lunacy if the crime occurred under a full moon, meanwhile, psychiatric patients at London’s Bethlehem Hospital were shackled and flogged as a preventive measure during certain lunar phases.

“Even today, despite studies discrediting the hypothesis, some people think full moons make everyone a little loony.”

Other videos have been posted online claiming the astronomical event is a sign before a mythological huge Planet X or Nibiru is about to pass us, with the gravitational pull wreaking havoc on Earth.

So what are the chances of something bad coming this way on Saturday?

Online doom mongers warned before last July’s blue moon it was a bad sign, particularly as it came before the infamous Blood Moon of last September which was also supposed to spell the end of the world.

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