The American Bankers Association criticized proposed government revisions to next year's quarterly financial statements as a "missed opportunity" to eliminate red tape.

"The ABA is disappointed that the proposed 1998 call report changes do not make any significant progress toward reducing the regulatory financial reporting burden," Paul V. Salfi, the trade group's senior financial policy analyst, wrote in a Dec. 1 letter to federal banking regulators.

Switching reports on preferred deposits to an annual requirement instead of a quarterly one and other streamlining attempts are only minor improvements, the letter complained.

The agencies still have not complied with a 1994 federal law to consolidate filing mandates on balance sheet, income, and changes in equity capital into a single form, according to the letter.

The ABA suggested that regulators further align reporting requirements with generally accepted accounting principles, make forms more consistent, and ditch supplemental reporting requirements that do not shed light on a bank's financial health.

In addition, letters from the ABA, Independent Bankers Association, and America's Community Bankers criticized a proposed change that would require banks to report information on mortgage-backed securities that are deemed highly volatile in price.

That would contradict a separate proposal by the agencies to eliminate similar volatility tests in favor of proof that a bank has a strong program to manage investment risks, they wrote.

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