Thursday 23 February 2017

Gilmore confident EU will 'act soon' to cut bailout rate

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore raised hopes last night that the long campaign for a reduction in the interest rate on Ireland's bailout package deal would "produce results".

He was speaking after conducting a meeting in Berlin yesterday with the German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

It came after Finance Minister Michael Noonan revealed earlier this week that the IMF and EU would make a €9bn profit over the lifetime of the €85bn bailout loans to Ireland.

But Mr Gilmore said that he believed the EU would "act soon" to reduce the interest rate on its bailout loans.

This was because Brussels knew that the Government was successfully implementing its planned economic recovery programme.

"I think the fact that Ireland is making progress and that the Irish Government is seen to be successful, I think that these things will produce results," he told RTE.

The Government's campaign to get an interest-rate reduction has been stalled by the insistence of the French government that it must make concessions on our low corporation tax rate in return.

The Government has rejected this demand from Paris out of hand.

Mr Gilmore raised the interest rate issue with Mr Westerwelle yesterday, who told him that he was aware how important it was to Ireland.

Sources

So far, the Government has drawn down €16.5bn in loans from EU sources.

And the next instalment is due to be drawn down in October.

If the Government was to get the 0.6pc interest rate reduction that was given to Portugal last May, it would save the country around €150m this year.

If Ireland got a full 1pc interest rate reduction, it would shave around €450m per year off our debt repayment bill.

The Department of Finance confirmed last night that its campaign to secure a reduction in the interest rate was still ongoing.

A spokesman said that it was currently getting assistance from Mr Gilmore and from Junior Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton.

Irish Independent

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