independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Noonan: too early to make €1bn call

Finance Minister Michael Noonan

IT is too early to say whether this month's deal on the promissory notes will have any impact on the Budget, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said at the start of a two-day visit to London.

"To reach our targets, we have €1bn less to do in terms of expenditure cuts and tax increases. Where I will apply that, if I'm finance minister during that period, has still to be decided," he said.

"The €1bn is available to use between now and 2015. For 2014, we're only in February and there are so many variables that could occur between now and the end of the year, I'm not prepared to predict."

Mr Noonan added that the Government was confident of beating its budget deficit target this year and emerging from an EU/IMF bailout.

The minister said he was "absolutely confident" Ireland could get off emergency European Union and International Monetary Fund support on schedule at the end of this year, but he repeated that he needed more help from his colleagues in Europe to ensure that once Ireland is out, "it stays out".

Investors

"We're about 60pc to 70pc of the way there, if you were marking us on exiting the programme," said Mr Noonan, ahead of talks with his British counterpart George Osborne, as well as investors.

"We're getting there, but we need further arrangements on the sustainability of the debt and we're negotiating those. We're reasonably confident we will put those arrangements in place and exit the programme.

"I want to make sure (that when we get out) we're out for good. If something untoward happens in some other European country, and it drags us back again, I don't want to be in that position."

The State has also received bi-lateral loans from Britain, Sweden and Denmark as part of its bailout package and Mr Noonan said the maturities on Britain's £3.2bn loan would be mentioned in his meeting with Mr Osborne, but not pressed hard. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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