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Troika in town for bailout exit talks

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 MINISTER: Michael Noonan

MINISTER: Michael Noonan

MINISTER: Michael Noonan

TROIKA officials will make their final visit here today as the country prepares to exit the bailout in less than two months.

Staff from the IMF, the EU and the European Central Bank will arrive in Dublin for the 12th and final troika inspection since the previous Fianna Fail-led government entered the bailout almost three years ago.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has already met IMF chief Christine Lagarde in Washington to discuss getting a safety-net loan after the Government exits the scheme on December 15.

The Government is required to stick to the troika's directions until the final loan is paid over, but it can choose whether to go for the safety-net loan or rely on a cash pile of €25bn it has borrowed for next year.

A spokesman for Mr Noonan said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the options for leaving the bailout.

"Ultimately, it is a matter for the Irish Government to evaluate and decide on the post-programme options," he added.

The Government is understood to be leaning in the direction of managing without a safety-net loan because it does not want restrictive conditions similar to the bailout deal.

In its inspection report for its last visit in July, the European Commission mentioned the difficulties in achieving this year's target of €300m savings from the Haddington Road public sector agreement.

It added that the cost of liquidating the Anglo Irish Bank could also lead to budget overruns because the State will have to pay the shortfall if there is another writedown on Anglo's toxic property loans as they are transferred to NAMA.

PROGRESS

However, it noted Ireland was making "good progress" in dealing with its debt and it said the property tax had "proved smoother" to implement than the €100 household charge.

The troika report revealed that the Government still had not decided on the level of water charges that families will have to pay when the first bills arrive in January 2015.

However, it said the administration wants the new Irish Water company to be excluded from its balance sheet and not counted as part of national debt.

hnews@herald.ie


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