The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. plans to hold a public hearing on its proposal to drop bank premiums 83% while holding thrift rates steady.

A date has not been set yet, but FDIC Chairman Ricki Tigert Helfer said in an interview Friday that she hoped to schedule the day-long hearing before April 17. That's the day comments are due on the agency's proposal.

Office of Thrift Supervision acting Director Jonathan Fiechter called for a hearing Jan. 31 when the FDIC put the premium plan out for comment.

"We're going to give everybody a thorough opportunity" to air their opinions, Ms. Helfer said.

Banks as well as thrifts have criticized the proposal. Groups like the Independent Bankers Association of America are claiming bank premiums should fall to half of what the FDIC has proposed, or two cents per $100 of domestic deposits.

Thrift trade groups, however, are arguing that the huge gap between bank and thrift premiums will have a devastating effect on their members.

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