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Saturday 17 March 2018

Government agrees €1bn budget cuts

The Government has agreed one billion euro of the three billion euro cuts to be announced in the Budget on December 7, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan revealed today.

With a decision on the future of toxic lender Anglo Irish Bank due in weeks, Mr Lenihan said Budget 2011 would also be about building confidence in the Irish economy.

"The figure agreed and indicated is three billion euro. The Government has already pencilled in one billion euro of that," he said.

"The Budget will not just be about the public finances although clearly the public finances are a very important part of it ... but in addition to that the Budget will contain measures to boost the economy," he said.

The Minister, who has been undergoing intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy for pancreatic cancer this year, also revealed the course of treatment was completed in June.

He said he was feeling more energetic and had climbed a number of mountains around the country during the summer break.

"It has stabilised the cancer for the present. Of course when you have a cancer you are always at risk, but it has stabilised the cancer for the present," he said.

"My energy levels I have to say are much better, so I'm in a good position to get on with the important decisions that have to be taken in this country in the next few months.

"It (the cancer) has improved somewhat but of course like all cancers it's still there, it has not gone away. It is there but it is not an immediate or clear or present danger to me."

Mr Lenihan told RTE Radio his doctors have advised that there is not likely to be any more intensive treatment this year.

He also dismissed suggestions that he was involved in behind-the-scenes moves to replace Taoiseach Brian Cowen as Fianna Fail leader.

Meanwhile, Mr Lenihan was in Brussels for talks on the future of Anglo Irish Bank with European counterparts and Commission chiefs today.

With the nationalised bank €8.2bn in the red and facing a €25bn bail-out, EC bosses are expected to sign off on their preferred option for the toxic lender this month.

Mr Lenihan is said to favour a 10-year wind down, with Anglo management pushing for a good-bank bad-bank split.

He said: " For me the imperative is the taxpayer imperative. What will reduce the cost of this work out for the taxpayer.

"Whatever works best for the taxpayer that's what I will bring before Government."

Talks begin with a meeting with Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia before discussions on European finance issues with Council president Herman Van Rompuy.

The group of European finance ministers known as EcoFin meets tomorrow ahead of a get together of the Eurozone finance ministers. Anglo is expected to be raised in all corners.

Last week Taoiseach Brian Cowen warned a quick wind-down of Anglo could ultimately cost €70bn and was not in the best interest of the taxpayer.

Reports of a rift between the coalition Government partners were also dismissed with Mr Cowen insisting the Cabinet was at one on the issue.

Press Association

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