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Overseas bank profits increase need for Kiwibank

Record overseas bank profits increase pressure for Kiwibank

Record bank profits combined with rapidly rising bank fees make the need for a Kiwibank even more urgent, Alliance leader and Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton says.

He says the banks could reduce their fees by the same proportion as their fee incomes have increased and still make more money than they did last year.

A KPMG survey shows banks made profits of $1,600 million in New Zealand last year, up from $1,200 million the year before. That's an increase of 33%.

On Monday the ANZ Bank announced an after-tax operating profit of $139m in New Zealand for the year to march, up 20% on last year. Staff numbers in New Zealand were slashed from 4498 to 4053, while at the same time its fee income increased 15% from NZ$135 million to $156m.

"If the ANZ reduced its fees by 15% it would still make more money than it made last year," Jim Anderton said.

"Compared to New Zealand's rate of inflation and rate of economic growth, the banks are achieving staggering profits. It is clear that consumers need a publicly-owned New Zealand bank to provide some real competition."

"The fees go up while staff numbers and service are cut. The ordinary person is being taken to the cleaners. Banks are replacing interest income with income from bank fees.

"The people who are really hit are low and middle individual account holders. The more you have in your account the less the bank charges mean to you.

"As fees and profits rise, the New Zealand banking system is feeding overseas bank shareholders. New Zealand needs a publicly-owned Kiwibank to keep a share of the banking system in New Zealand and to ensure its profits are retained for New Zealanders," Jim Anderton said.

ends

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