Wednesday 18 October 2017

Ministers must give me proof of job creation – Taoiseach

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has signalled he will put further pressure on ministers to control spending following the departure of the troika.

In the wake of the announcement of the clean exit from the bailout, Mr Kenny also said he would demand they produce concrete evidence of job creation.

Mr Kenny said ministers would have to "watch their Ps and Qs" on their votes and the management of their departments. The Taoiseach predicted that "better years" lay ahead and that the decision not to apply for a credit facility had been met with a "very positive" reaction.

But he ruled out the prospect of reversing some of the commitments agreed with the troika, such as the sale of Bord Gais.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, Mr Kenny said the country would be subject to two annual visits by troika officials – double the number due to be made to our eurozone partners.

"The other one extra visit we get per year will be, I think, just to see that things are the way they should be," he said.

But Mr Kenny added he and his government believed the decision to forgo the option of a €10bn credit facility was "clear, positive and uncluttered".

"It should be remembered that when the protective barrier removes itself on December 15, where is Ireland? It's back as a full member of the eurozone with the opportunities and the constraints and the benefits and the comforts of what the eurozone offers," he said.

Mr Kenny was speaking following a meeting of the British-Irish Council in Jersey, which was also attended by Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers.

And amid deepening concern about the state of the finances at the Department of Health, Mr Kenny issued a clear warning to ministers about out-of-control spending.

He said that Ireland had to follow the EU's 'two-pack' and 'six-pack' programmes – which relate to fiscal control and economic surveillance.

"You now have to comply with the semester requirements. The fact that you exit the programme on December 15 doesn't mean that every country is free to do as it wishes," he said.

"We have signed up to the 'two pack' we have signed up to the 'six pack', we have signed up to the semester requirements. That means the ministers in government have to watch their Ps and Qs in terms of the ceilings for their votes and how they manage their departments," he added.

Mr Kenny also hinted he would be pressuring ministers to produce evidence of job creation, particularly from state agencies under the control of their respective departments.

"It's a cross-government response here – show me what the state agencies are doing," he said.

Asked whether he felt the decision not to apply for a credit line represented a risk, Mr Kenny replied: "Life itself is a risk. Everything in politics is a (risk). There's nothing guaranteed in this life except you live and die."

Irish Independent

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