Canada will push to keep bank capital rules on schedule

Thu Nov 1, 2012 2:55pm EDT
 

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will urge all countries to stick to the agreed schedule for implementing tougher bank capital rules at a November 4-5 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 nations, a senior finance ministry official said on Thursday.

The so-called Basel III rules are the world's regulatory response to the financial crisis, forcing banks to triple the amount of basic capital they hold in a bid to avoid future taxpayer bailouts.

They were to be phased in from January 2013 but areas such as the United States and the European Union are not yet ready and U.S. and British supervisors have criticized them as too complex to work.

The Canadian official, who briefed reports ahead of the meeting on condition that he not be named, said it was imperative that the rules, the timelines and the principles behind them be respected and said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty would make that view known to his G20 colleagues.

Canada sees the European debt crisis as the biggest near-term risk to the global economy, and it also expects the U.S. debt crisis to be top of mind at the talks, the official said.

But the meeting takes place just before the U.S. presidential election and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will be absent, so it remains unclear how much the G20 can pressure Washington on that front.

Some other countries have also scaled back their delegations, raising doubts about how meaningful the meeting will be.

The official dismissed that argument, saying high-level officials substituting for their ministers allowed for extremely important issues to be addressed anyway.

He said holding each country around the table accountable to its past commitments helped keep the momentum going toward resolving global economic problems.

(Reporting by Louise Egan; Writing by David Ljunggren; Editing by M.D. Golan)