The Government has successfully concluded the third quarterly programme review mission with the EU Commission, the ECB and the IMF.
The purpose of the quarterly review mission has been to evaluate performance against the targets set for the third quarter of the programme of financial support for Ireland including fiscal developments, the macroeconomic outlook, progress on commitments in the restructuring of the financial sector and structural reform. The Government is pleased that the staff mission has assessed the Programme to be on track and in their view all targets in the Programme to date have been met. The changes to the MoU are largely related to updates to take account of progress to date.
On welcoming the successful conclusion of the review Minister Noonan stated:
This review was very much about seeing where we are in relation to the conditions of our programme and its specified targets. I am pleased that the mission has concluded that Ireland is meeting all of the conditions and targets of our programme. We have met the fiscal targets. We have met the banking targets. We have met the structural reform targets. I am also pleased that the external partners have concluded that the Irish Programme is on track and we are making good progress.
I am especially pleased that implementation of some of the financial sector reforms has occurred ahead of schedule, namely:The legal merger of Allied Irish Bank and EBS Building Society was completed on 1st July 2011, well ahead of the end September 2011 deadline.
The merger of Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society to form the Irish Bank Resolution Company (IBRC) was completed on 1st July 2011, well ahead of its scheduled end December 2011 deadline.
A plan to recapitalise Irish Life and Permanent has been finalised again ahead of schedule and the Irish Life subsidiary has been already offered for sale again in advance of the October 2011 deadline.
Minister Howlin added:
Good progress is also being made with regards to the programme with the public finances showing welcome signs of stabilisation after a number of very difficult years. We just recently met the mid-year fiscal target set as part of the Programme with tax revenues increasing and public expenditure being managed within the limits set out for the year. Furthermore, the public service paybill is being managed and is on target.
The Comprehensive Review of both current and capital expenditure is underway and it will help to identify expenditure programme savings, efficiency savings and necessary reforms.
Both Ministers concluded:
It is encouraging that the programme is on track and that that the economy returned to growth in the first quarter of this year after three years of contraction. We are however acutely aware that further difficult choices will have to be made in regard to Budget 2012.
The precise make-up of the measures to be introduced will be decided upon later this year and will take account of the Comprehensive Reviews of expenditure and more up-to-date economic and budgetary data. This Government is committed to restoring sustainability to the public finances in a manner that best seeks to protect the economic growth which is beginning to return, and we will do so in an equitable and fair manner.
Read the full press release and background supplied background information
Watch Ministers Howling and Noonan's comments at today's press conference in the Department of Finance below...
Watch the Q&A from today's press conference in two parts below...