independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Troika takes swipe at health spending as we leave bailout

Health Minister James Reilly

THE troika has warned that making savings in health spending, while protecting core services, requires particular attention as the country leaves the bailout.

The European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) also warned that while unemployment is falling, it remains high.

It pointed out that the Government expects to shrink the budget deficit – the gap between how much the state spends and takes in through revenue and taxes – to 4.8pc of the value of the economy.

This is ahead of the targets that have been laid down by Europe.

“To reach these goals, Ireland’s record of strong budget implementation needs to continue,” said a joint ECB/EC and IMF statement, marking the end of the bailout’s final review mission.

“Realising the proposed savings in health expenditure, while protecting core services, will require particular attention.

“Broadening the revenue base, reforming the health sector, and targeting social supports toward the most vulnerable would help achieve the further fiscal consolidation needed in a durable and growth-friendly manner.”

It also warned that greater efforts were needed by the banks to find long term solutions to the mortgage crisis.

On a more positive note, it said growth has been above the EU average since 2011.

The troika said growth prospects for Ireland are strengthening after weakness in the earlier part of the year. But is said low growth was projected for this year before strengthening in 2014.

“Strong policy implementation by the Irish authorities and European decisions have improved funding conditions even as domestic challenges and external uncertainties remain,” the statement said.

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