Saturday 16 February 2019

We pass Troika test but health spending to be reined in

Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

THE Government has assured the IMF-EU bailout team – who are in Dublin this week – that budget targets in the health sector will be met, despite the over-run in spending so far.

Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin admitted the deficit in the Department of Health was discussed with the Troika during the latest bailout review, along with other areas of spending.

“They are very satisfied that, as with every other areas of expenditure, we will hit the target as set,” he said.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan announced the country is half way through the IMF-EU bailout.

Mr Noonan said the Government had passed the latest test with the successful conclusion of the seventh review of the Programme of Assistance.

He said at the half way point of the bailout, quite major changes to the economy had occurred with 78pc of the funding drawn down and 120 conditions of the programme implemented.

Mr Noonan said the Government needed a more sustainable debt position to get back to borrowing on the international markets.

“That is the real test of success,” he said.

The minister said the primary objectives remain the same:

- Getting the budget in balance;

- Making the debt more sustainable.

Mr Howlin said the Government also wanted to put a stimulus into the economy to reduce the level of unemplpyment and get a functioning economy as well

He said it was a case of “steady as you go”.

“The signs are good. We have a long way to go yet,” he said.

Mr Noonan said negotiations are continuing on a bank debt deal, which he hopes will be completed by October.

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