Barcelona’s First Deputy Mayor defends banking on values “as an alternative to the current model and its catastrophic effects.”

Barcelona’s First Deputy Mayor, Gerardo Pisarello, defended the need for banking on values “to start attacking and stop staying on the side-lines” as it is “a sufficiently strong alternative to attract the entire economy, in contrast to the current speculative financial model that has given catastrophic social and economic results and has endangered the productive economy”.

“The economy can work differently and can be full of values. We do not want to resign ourselves to a reality, which is not the only one”, he mentioned during the opening of the international conference “We Bank on Values” organised by the Town Hall of Barcelona and the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV).

Pisarello has defended everything the Town Hall of Barcelona is doing to promote ethical banking, just as the Social and Solidarity-based Economy Plan 2016-2019 establishes. He highlighted the existence of new policies with financial entities and a boost in cooperative funds that establish credit lines for new social and solidarity-based economy projects. In this context, other measures were mentioned, such as:

o Inclusion or social criteria in debt contracting. The offers received were evaluated at 70% according to price and 30% according to compliance with these social clauses. This allowed the Town Hall to formalise loans with ethical banking entities for the first time: Caixa d’Enginyers and Fiare.

o Regarding surplus disposal, the Town Hall has established provisions of up to 50 million euros to deposit in ethical banks and credit unions. In this sense, the Town Hall has already opened accounts with Triodos, Fiare and Caixa d’Enginyers. It is also now a member of Fiare and Caixa d’Enginyers.

o Boosting an ambitious public housing expansion policy in the city with support from private agents. In this sense, the Municipal Council for Housing signed mortgage loans with Triodos for 7.5 million euros.

o In addition, ethical banking is working on financing cooperative housing projects on public land granted by the Town Hall for this purpose.

o Boosting cooperative credit funds. This enables cooperative projects to access credits, and the ethical banks and credit unions can take the risk thanks to the Town Hall’s support. With credit lines of up to €1,000,000 for new social and solidarity-based economy projects. A new agreement has also been signed with Coop57 and another one with Fiare.

During the opening of the conference, the Executive Director of the GABV, Marcos Eguiguren, defended the ambition to “change the financial world”. Marcos also added that “we are a model of banks that do things in a certain way, to show that banking can be profitable, by sensibly pleasing shareholders, but without treating people just as clients and, in addition, carrying out positive activities for the society and planet”.

Eguiguren highlighted the need to be “transparent to explain to clients what we do with their money” and the resilience of having 48 banks belonging to the network. “We are more financially sound that the average, large banks, with very good cash flow and equal or similar profitability”, he mentioned, while defending the need to use money sensibly and in line with clients’ values and with benefits for the environment, society and economy.

Eguiguren has spoken “not only about alternative banking, but about new banking” and he proved it in numbers: 132,000 million in assets, 48 banks, 41 million clients and 50,000 employees.