Ireland 'on track to exit recession' - Gates
Microsoft founder Bill Gates has predicted it will take Ireland up to four years to emerge from its present economic difficulties.
Mr Gates, who visited Dublin last week, said Ireland’s basic strengths remained.
Ireland had taken a "one-time gigantic hit" as a percentage of GDP, but the "basic quality of the workforce and the attractiveness as a place to live is still shining through. Slowly but surely those strengths are showing."
He maintained Ireland has a “lot of strengths” in terms of its ability to collect taxes and to spend money which other countries in a similar position did not have.
“Ireland’s good example is that you can get through this. Austerity is tough as it, but eventually it can come to an end,” he said.
Speaking in a prerecorded interview for RTÉ’s new Morning Edition programme, Mr Gates identified third level education as the best way for a country to be competitive and he praised philanthropist Chuck Feeney’s investment in Irish education.
He described the EU as a “fantastic institution” and said the single market had led to efficiencies but even an economy as large as the US could not expect to be unaffected if the euro zone crisis was not resolved, he warned.
He also predicted that, on balance, the UK would opt to stay in the EU.
Mr Gates was in Ireland last week and met Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore in relation to overseas aid and negotiations surrounding the EU budget for 2014 to 2020.
Mr Gates has been giving away his colossal fortune through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for years.
Despite having already given away $28 billion (€20.8 billion) of his personal fortune, he is still worth $64.3 billion (€47.5 billion), according to Bloomberg and his fortune rose last year.
Mr Gates, who has since been surpassed in wealth by the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, said he would “still have that problem” of being the richest man in the world had he not given his money away. “I’m solving that problem as fast as I can,” he joked.
“This ability (to make money) has challenges that come with it. I’ve had huge benefits in terms of the people I have gotten to work with and the issues I get to speak out on,” he told presenter Keelin Shanley.
“My wife and I do our best to minimise it as a challenge for the kids. I certainly have, in terms of my life as a whole, nothing to complain about.”
He also said progress on meeting the Millennium Goals had been accelerating in recent years.
Reducing abject poverty by half is “well ahead and we have already achieved that goal," he added. "The childhood death rate will be cut by close to 50 per cent. These figures are improving faster than ever in the history of mankind," he explained.
"The next 15 years should be even better if the generosity doesn’t hold it back or there is some confusion about the rules that put us off-track."