MINISTERS MICHAEL NOONAN and Brendan Howlin are to reveal the troika’s latest thoughts on the state of Ireland at noon today.
The Minister for Finance and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform are to brief reporters on the conclusions of the eighth review of Ireland’s observance of its bailout agreement. The troika has been in Dublin, meeting with the Government and other public representatives on how the country is meeting the terms of the bailout.
The last review by the bailout partners, in July of this year, had found that Ireland was meeting its targets under the programme. With Budget 2013 looming in a month and a half, the results of this latest review will be of major interest. However, the chance to question the troika in more detail – especially if it makes recommendations for tighter budgeting – will evade the Irish media as the troika no longer give a press conference on their review visits. The last time the media had the chance to meet troika representative was in January of this year when Vincent Browne took on Klaus Masuch of the ECB – through the medium of a taxi driver.
One thing we do know this quarter is that the troika has not concerned itself with the level of savings achieved (or not) by the Croke Park Agreement. On Monday of last week, two days before the troika came to town, Howlin said that he had confirmed with the bailout partners that they had “never expressed concern in respect of the Croke Park savings”. Stephen Collins in the Irish Times had reported that the IMF, the EU and the ECB were worried that the Agreement was not making sufficient savings in the public sector wage bill.
Yesterday, SIPTU president Jack O’Connor had harsh words for the troika, claiming that his meetings with the representatives “serve no useful purpose whatsoever” and that they are “simply bagmen for the big European banks who are not interested in hearing any alternatives to their wage devaluation strategy”.
In other objections to the troika’s operations, MEP Nessa Childers fired a shot across their bow from Strasbourg where she noted the challenge put to the partners by ICTU and Social Justice Ireland. The troika should be “more democratically accountable”, she said, and suggested that their actions should be open to an audit if necessary.