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Ailish O’Hora: Troika says we’ll just have to suck it up

THERE’S no going back now. The latest report from the Troika on Ireland’s progress under the EU/IMF/ECB bailout programme says stick with it – and that’s just what we will have to do.

While acknowledging the risk of the public suffering from what it terms “reform fatigue”, it says bring on the water and property charges and do not use the €1bn in savings from the Anglo Irish Bank promissory note deal for savings in budget cuts.

Sounds harsh? It is. But there’s no point going back now.

If we want to exit the bailout programme by the end of the year as targeted, taking the pain now could well pay off.

We are still at the mercy of international investors when selling our debt and recovery, as fragile as it is, is also dependent on the performance of bigger markets than ourselves.

The US is showing strong signs of recovery although the eurozone as a whole is still extremely fragile.

Despite this, many recent domestic indicators have been positive including unemployment figures.

Other business indicators have also been positive.

For example, a recent business sentiment survey found there is greater confidence in the economy as a whole, boosted by the promissory note deal.

We must not lose sight of this as grim as things may seem currently.

Clichéd as it may sound, these are green shoots.

They should be taken as positives although massive challenges remain in the domestic economy in relation to the long-term unemployed and mortgage arrears, for example.

However, the Troika has warned that policy slippages by the Government could affect borrowing costs of if promises by EU leaders to give us a bank debt deal were “substantially weakened” – all the more reason to push ahead with reforms upfront.

It will mean two more painful budgets, at best, but we’ve already been through five of them.

So two more sleeps......hopefully.

The Troika message is clear - stick with it.

At this stage, it seems the most sensible route forward.

Online Editors