FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan has hinted that Ireland might not have to apply for a precautionary credit line when it exits the bailout.
The Government has already indicated it might look for a €10bn credit buffer to guard against market shocks.
But Mr Noonan told the Fine Gael national conference the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) has built a €25bn fund which can act as a significant buffer after Ireland exits the bailout.
"If we never borrowed another bob, we're cash-funded into 2015," Mr Noonan said.
He was echoing similar comments made by EU economics commissioner Olli Rehn this week, who said Ireland might be able to exit the bailout without a “precautionary arrangement”.
Mr Noonan said he will start consulting with the Troika after the Budget on how to manage Ireland’s exit from the bailout.
“Countries who have exited IMF Programmes have had follow up programmes or backstop arrangements to ensure a return to the markets at very little risk,” he said.
“Ireland is fortunate that the NTMA has almost €25 billion in cash balances as we return to the market so we have a backstop already in place.
“When the Budget is concluded I plan to have consultation on our exit strategy with the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank. Having heard their views, I will advise the Government on the best course of action.”
And he said the Budget will include a “range of measures” to help job creation.
He was speaking during a seminar on the economy at Fine Gael’s national conference in Limerick and said there were some “bits and bobs” and “bells and whistles” to complete in advance of Tuesday’s Budget.
“I can assure you that this Budget will include a range of measures to build on the jobs growth that we have seen,” Mr Noonan told delegates. “We know that strong economic growth and jobs growth are essential to our exit from the bailout.”
He also said the country cannot “go back to an economy built on the quicksand of a credit and property bubble”.
“This Government is building an economy that is based on real activity, such as agriculture, tourism, I.T., manufacturing and a normal sized construction sector. The jobs in these sectors are being created by the small and medium sized business owners and entrepreneurs that are prepared to take risks and make investments.”
“To restore growth in these sectors and throughout the economy, this Government will play its part. We have been willing to try any measures. This willingness to try bold initiatives has led to the significant improvement in the tourism sector through the highly successful Jobs Initiative and its temporary reductions in VAT and employer PRSI.
“We will continue to pursue any new ideas to reinvigorate other sectors of the economy that require assistance. We will try any measure that can increase the number of jobs and build on the 34,000 increase in the number of people in work that we saw in the last year.”
Once the Budget is completed, Mr Noonan will have talks with the Troika on exiting the bailout.
Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent