Business Irish

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Noonan wants bailout exit talks with IMF

Colm Kelpie Brussels

FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan says he now wants to engage seriously with the troika on strategies for exiting the bailout and accessing cheap funding.

The latest 10-day review mission with representatives of the IMF, ECB and EU got under way in Dublin yesterday to gauge Ireland's progress under the bailout deal.

It is the penultimate troika visit before we formally leave the bailout at the end of the year. It comes as the IMF cut its growth projections for the recession-hit eurozone, warning a lack of confidence among people about the future may become self-fullfilling unless a turnaround in fortunes can be achieved.

Mr Noonan, however, said the IMF was highlighting issues that European finance ministers largely agreed with.

At the end of a meeting of European finance ministers in Brussels, Mr Noonan said: "I would like to engage seriously with the troika this time on exit strategies to ensure that when we go back into the markets in a continuous way in the autumn that we're back to stay and that we get money at low interest rates.

"I'll be asking what ideas they have and where they might assist us in that."

Ireland has utilised a large portion of the €67bn that was allocated in the bailout programme, and the remaining funds should be exhausted by the end of the year.

In its latest World Economic Update, the IMF said the eurozone economy would shrink 0.6pc this year, instead of the previously forecast -0.4pc.

IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard said low export growth was weighing down Germany's growth while austerity measures were causing issues in France. "I think generally a lack of confidence in the future, which, if it doesn't turn around, may end up being partly self-fulfilling, which is worrisome.''

Key IMF projections include:

* Global growth at 3.1pc this year, down 0.2pc.

* China's growth rate 7.8pc, down 0.3pc.

* US at 1.7pc, down 0.2pc.

* Eurozone at -0.6pc, down 0.2pc.

* By contrast, Japan has been rounded up to 2pc.

* UK also rounded up 0.3pc to 0.9pc.

Mr Noonan said the IMF update was a shorter version of a speech made by IMF boss Christine Lagarde to eurozone finance ministers in Brussels on Monday.

"It was easy for us to agree with her that banking union should proceed. She stressed the importance of certain countries and Europe as a whole paying attention to issues like deficits and debt and continuing with programmes to keep deficits under control.

"There's nothing in it that would cause concerns for us,'' he added.

Irish Independent

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