18 Oct 2008

Bush says economic rescue plan will take time to take effect

2:38 pm on 18 October 2008

United States President George Bush said "it's going to take a while" for his economic rescue plan to bear fruit, and charged his successor with carrying out an overhaul of US financial rules.

"The actions will take more time to have their full impact. It took a while for the credit system to freeze up; it's going to take a while for the credit system to thaw," he said in a speech to the US Chamber of Commerce.

Mr Bush said whoever becomes US president in November will have to "ensure that this situation never happens again" by updating US regulations on banking.

Citing US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's overhaul proposal and "good suggestions" from others, Bush said: "Enacting these ideas into law must be a top priority for the next president and the next Congress."

Amid deep unease over the US government buying stakes in US banks - notably on the right-wing of his Republican party - Bush defended the move as a "last resort" and denied that he had taken "a step toward nationalising banks".

"This programme is designed with strong protections to ensure the government's involvement in individual banks is limited in size, limited in scope, and limited in duration," he said.

Mr Bush will host French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso at his Camp David retreat this weekend for talks on the global financial meltdown.

The US president has signed on to a proposal from Mr Sarkozy, whose country holds the rotating European Union presidency, to hold an emergency summit of world leaders, a gathering now expected to take place in late November.

Russia's rescue plan

Russia has enacted a massive rescue plan for the country's ailing banking system that could include temporary state purchases of some banks, a senior government official said.

The official also said the government might be forced to make cuts in next year's budget as a result of the crisis and that the energy and metals industries, key export revenue sources for Russia, would be hit hard.

Charities blast rich nations

Five global charities have criticised rich nations for quickly bailing out the world's ailing financial sector while dragging their feet on aid, climate change and poverty.

In a joint statement, the heads of Amnesty International, World Vision, Oxfam, Greenpeace and Plan International have warned of dire consequences if wealthy states use the crisis to cut aid and trade.

They warn there is a risk of increasing human rights violations and rising social tensions as economies shrink and countries tighten their belts.

God "punishing America"

The leader of the Palestinian Islamic group Hamas said the global financial meltdown was God's way of punishing the United States for its support of Israel and its occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We see it as God's punishment for the criminals (US and its Western allies). Nothing is more unjust than occupying an Islamic state. Nothing is more unjust than keeping the Palestinian people under occupation for over 60 years," Ismail Haniyeh told worshippers before Friday prayers in the Gaza Strip.