IRELAND HAS RECEIVED a positive review of its efforts to meet the terms of its rescue programme from the so-called troika today, the Government has said.
Officials from the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund and European Union have been in Ireland for the past 10 days for to assess Ireland’s progress.
Ministers Brendan Howlin and Michael Noonan appeared at a press conference today to announce the results of the third quarterly review.
Noonan said, as expected, it was a successful review. Despite pressure at the end of September to rush through legislation, there was a general acceptance that targets had been met, he said.
He said there continues to be a very good, constructive relationship with the international partners.
I am pleased that the mission has concluded that the Programme is on track and Ireland is making substantial progress in all the key areas,” said Noonan. “The restructuring of the banking sector has yielded significant savings on the capital to be invested by the taxpayer (from private sector investment and the liability management exercises) and it has also allowed Irish banks to access international money markets without the use of the guarantee. Furthermore, our tax revenues to date are slightly ahead of profile and we are set to outperform our budget deficit target, as set in the Programme, for 2011.
Commenting on the upcoming targets, Noonan said that the Government told the European and IMF officials that it is committed to reducing the budget deficit to 8.6 per cent of GDP next year.
This will be achieved through a €3.6 billion correction in the upcoming budget.
Noonan said that the correction may have to go above €3.6 billion but it will stay as close as possible to that figure. However, if more needs to be done to reach the target, then it will be.
“We will take that extra step to make the adjustment,” he added.
We welcome the fact that our programme is on track and the recent reductions in our interest rate have further improved our debt sustainability. The focus now is on delivering the required adjustment for Budget 2012. We will not shy away from the tough decisions that are required but we will make decisions in a fair and equitable way. Full details of this will be announced in line with the timetable set out.”
Noonan said that the Government is not being coy with details of the Budget, adding that it did not want to be accused of burying details during an interesting presidential election.
Although he would not release any details, Noonan reiterated that the Government can “drop” measures in the Memorandum of Understanding if it does not fit in with policy and “substitute” it with something else of equal value.
The next two months will be big months in terms of tax intake and tax returns for October and November will be examined closely.
Howlin again confirmed that there will be an “ambitious” sale of €2 billion worth of State assets. He said that the Irish government spoke with the troika about how to use the money garnered from these sales. He said that he made it clear that the assets sales should be used to stimulate growth in the economy.
Noonan added that Ireland wants to be seen as a country that pays its debts, pays its way in the world and is trustworthy.
Officials from the troika will deliver their verdict at 2pm today.