12 Jun 2009

Forest owners urge banks to drop rates

2:49 pm on 12 June 2009

Forest owners have joined farmers in complaining about high bank interest rates.

Forest Owners Association president Peter Berg is disappointed that the Reserve Bank held the Official Cash Rate at 2.5% on Thursday rather than cutting it further.

He says a 6% margin between the Official Cash Rate and commercial lending rates is unacceptable, and continuing high bank interest rates are putting the owners of small-sized to medium-sized forests under increasing financial pressure.

Mr Berg says a further reduction in the base lending rate would have put pressure on trading banks to reduce their rates and discouraged speculation in the New Zealand dollar.

Federated Farmers has also called on banks to drop farm overdraft and mortgage interest rates.

The organisation says rural debt in New Zealand has climbed to $45 billion so a 1% fall in interest rates would save the agricultural sector $450 million.