FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan says the government could try to sell Allied Irish Banks (AIB) before the next election in 2016.
The Minister for Finance said he may “test the market” for a sale of the State-owned bank, in an interview with Bloomberg TV at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
He does not expect the Irish banks to need more capital when the stress tests are done later this year.
"There's a political timetable as well," Mr Noonan said.
"The Government will have an election at the latest at the end of March, early April 2016, so we might test the market sometime ahead of that," he added.
The national debt is “entirely sustainable,” despite heading for 123pc of the size of the economy, he said.
The debt will fall further as the State runs down cash balances and the value of bank shares rise, he added.
Mr Noonan also said today that there is a lot of international optimism about Ireland's recovery but there are still challenges ahead.
"There is still a lot to do in Ireland to restore the economy to where we want it to be," he said.
"The international community is more optimistic about Ireland than I would be and I'm quite optimistic."
Earlier Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Ireland will not remain complacent following our exit from the EU/ECB/IMF bailout.
Tom Molloy in Davos