WASHINGTON — Congress should move quickly to charge premiums to fast-growing institutions that add billions of dollars of insured deposits within short periods, America’s Community Bankers argued in a paper released late last week.

It should also merge the bank and thrift reserve funds and give federal regulators more flexibility in how they determine premiums, the group said.

Legislators should act now, the ACB said, to fix these critical problems facing the deposit insurance system. Other issues, including increasing coverage from $100,000 per account, could be addressed later, the group said.

ACB president Diane M. Casey said in an interview that her group is mainly worried that institutions such as Merrill Lynch & Co., which moved more than $31 billion from uninsured accounts into insured deposits in the past six months, could dilute the ratio of federal reserves to insured deposits.

If either the Bank Insurance Fund or the Savings Association Insurance Fund drops below the 1.25% statutory minimum, covered institutions would have to start paying premiums of 23 cents for every $100 in insured deposits.

The ACB also suggested extending deposit insurance coverage to individual retirement accounts. The group urged that all individual retirement savings accounts have a federal guarantee that is significantly above the coverage limit on other accounts, but did not recommend a specific figure.

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