Friday 13 December 2019

Bailout team is back -- minus 'The Chopper'

Fionnan Sheahan

THE 'bailout boys' are back in town tomorrow -- but possibly without 'The Chopper'.

The team from the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank will begin their latest three-month review of the €85bn bailout.

IMF chief Ajai Chopra, who has become a household name in Ireland since the bailout was negotiated last November, is not expected to appear.

Mr Chopra, nicknamed 'The Chopper', is head of the IMF mission to Ireland but, as IMF European Department deputy director, he is thought to have his eyes focused on Greece.

The bailout team will be in the Department of Finance and the Central Bank until Thursday week checking on the progress of the package.

Among the items on the agenda are spending cuts, including reductions in the public sector wage bill, in the event of a shortfall in the saving from reform of the public sector.

But the annual review of the Croke Park agreement last month showed the Government was on target so far.

Ministers have warned that if those savings from efficiencies and reductions in staff numbers are not achieved this year, there will be more cuts.

Yesterday, Department of Finance officials said the Government has met the targets set as part of the bailout programme for the first half of the year.

Announcing the Exchequer returns for the end of the first half of the year, the department's assistant secretary general Michael McGrath said officials will work with the IMF-EU team when the review begins later this week.

"We will engage with them and afterwards they will have to go through their own process," he said.

Irish Independent

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