WASHINGTON-At the same time community groups are fighting to preserve the Community Reinvestment Act regulations, bankers are saying the relief provisions are not enough. In the final week before the May 10 deadline for public comment on the CRA revamp that has been proposed by the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the National Community Capital Association used its Web site (www.SaveCRA.org) to urge concerned consumers to e-mail the agencies. The agencies’ proposal would create lending and community development tests, whereas the current CRA exam looks at lending, investments, and services for banks between $250 million and $1 billion in assets. “Partnerships with and investments in community development financial institutions (CDFIs) are an important way that many banks meet their commitment to serve their markets,” NCCA’s suggested language for the e-mail reads. “Replacing the Investment Test with a Community Development Test that does not explicitly encourage investment and services could stifle these partnerships, which have created new customers and new markets for banks.” On the flip side of the argument, the Independent Community Bankers of America wrote the agencies in a comment letter, “Extending the streamlined exam to more community banks would . ensure the regulations emphasize performance over process and eliminate unnecessary regulatory burden.” ICBA supported the community development criteria for banks between $250 million and $1 billion in assets, but suggested that greater regulatory relief would be achieved by raising the current small bank streamlined examination from $250 million to $500 million and applying the new community development assessment to banks between $500 million and $1 billion in assets. The American Bankers Association stated in its comment letter that it “is deeply concerned” that the proposal provides “little of the needed regulatory burden relief or rationalization of the CRA regulations needed for community banks.” The group pushed to raise the small bank threshold to $1 billion and increase the streamlined examination threshold to $500 million.

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