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Banks ask to postpone talks on FX retail loans

Talks between the government, banks and civil associations on a solution to social tensions caused by Hungarian households' big stock of foreign currency-denominated loans were postponed at the request of the Hungarian Banking Association on Tuesday, government commissioner for financial rights György Doubravszky said. The decision on the postponement was taken to achieve the goals of the talks without delay, Doubravszky said. Doubravszky said he had written to the association about the only point on the agenda for the talks on Tuesday and expected a reply before the end of the week. In the letter, he asked whether the stock of retail FX loans were loans provided in foreign currency and repaid in forints, foreign currency loans booked in foreign currency, or forint loans booked in foreign currency. Doubravszky initiated the talks a week earlier. He also urged an extension of the moratorium on evictions by 45 days from March 1. Hungarian households borrowed heavily in foreign currency when the forint was strong and FX loans were cheaper than forint ones. But the weaker forint raised repayments on the FX loans, causing the number of distressed borrowers to swell. Hungarian Banking Association communications director Ágnes Sütő told MTI that negotiators for the banks had received three and a half lines concerning the topic of the talks only late Monday. She said the lack of information left the banks' negotiators "unprepared" and called the talks on Tuesday "unnecessary stalling". She said the association delivered the legal definition of "foreign currency-denominated loans" at present along with a professional explanation to parties participating at the talks on Tuesday. The association is prepared for negotiations at all talks "for which appropriate preparations have been made", she added.