Bailout loan can be repaid early, says IMF
THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said Ireland can repay its bailout loans early free of charge and without any conditionality.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said taxpayers could save up to €375m per year if the State was able to pay off a share of the IMF portion of the €67.5bn bailout.
But unless there is agreement from Europe, repaying the IMF portion of the loan early would automatically trigger the repayment of the less onerous European share of the bailout, wiping out the benefits.
Mr Noonan said he will lobby European lenders in September to back a deal. The idea will be pursued at ministerial level, he said.
Fianna Fail's finance spokesman Michael McGrath, who received a letter from the IMF assuring him that Ireland could repay its loans earlier, said yesterday that every effort must be made by the Government to achieve a deal.
"The Government now needs to follow up on this with the other international lenders who provided us with funds under the bailout programme as their consent is required to avoid early repayment of the IMF loans triggering proportionate repayments to the other lenders," Mr McGrath said.
"It is in everyone's interests that Ireland's debt position is made more sustainable and that this annual saving is achieved for the benefit of Irish taxpayers."
A proposed deal would see Ireland raise cash on the markets to repay €15bn of the more than €22bn that the Government owes to the IMF, led by Christine Lagarde, pictured.
It comes after the international rescue fund hiked interest rates to almost 5pc, double what Europe charges and far more than the price of borrowing on the markets.
Its Ireland mission chief Craig Beaumont said the IMF accepts early repayment with no charge or conditionality attached.
"Early repayments are not unusual, including examples in recent years of Latvia, Hungary and Iceland," he wrote.
The IMF charges extra because of the size of the Irish loans.