Sunday 11 December 2016

Interest cost on Ireland debt fell below €7bn last year - NTMA

Published 14/07/2016 | 12:05

National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) chief executive Conor O'Kelly. Photo: Frank McGrath
National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) chief executive Conor O'Kelly. Photo: Frank McGrath

The interest cost on Ireland's debt fell below €7bn last year, the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) has said

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The agency said the early repayment of Ireland's IMF loans helped contribute to that.

But the organisation's chief executive, Conor O'Kelly, warned that  while the State's debt dynamics are favourable, the debt pile remains at over €200bn.

"We do face challenges," he said.

"Firstly, the supportive environment provided by the ECB's quantitative easing programme should not be underestimated. Secondly, as so have said before, our debt is over €200bn and the UK referendum outcome is a reminder that Ireland is not immune to domestic or external shocks."

The NTMA launches it's annual report this morning.

It is the first year-on-year decline in the interest bill since 2008, Mr O'Kelly said.

 In 2014, it was €7.5bn.

Mr O'Kelly said NTMA staff had been talking to investors over the last 24 hours regarding the 26pc GDP figure from the CSO.

He said there had been no investor reaction and that investors are aware of the nature of Ireland's economy. He said the figure does "dilute the value" of the measure but said the NTMA looks at other economic gauges when selling Ireland.

On Brexit, he said there will ultimately be credit and economic implications for Ireland.

Mr O'Kelly said the GDP number was a "bit of a surprise".

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the activities that reflected the surge in GDP were not generated in the Irish market. He said the Government continued to plan a budget based on 5pc growth for this year.

Mr Noonan also expressed "regret" at the departure of George Osborne as UK Chancellor. 

 He said he was a very good friend of Ireland's, and recalled his support in providing Ireland with a bilateral loan as part of the bailout programme.

 He congratulated Philip Hammond and said he hopes the relationship will be equally as good. Mr Noonan said he will be in contact with Mr Hammond later today.

 Mr Noonan said the debt-to-GDP ratio is falling but that we have to be vigilant and act prudently.

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