Noonan expects bailout exit 'menu'


Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said today the EU-IMF troika has promised to issue the Government with a paper setting out “a menu of options” for exiting the bailout programme.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos, Mr Noonan said he was confident Ireland would exit its programme by the end of the year.

He said he expected to receive a list of strategies from the troika relating to the country’s exit “in the next week or so”.

Mr Noonan said he envisaged the paper would include various “backstop arrangements” which Ireland may never take up but which would reassure the markets.

“We would like to see a range of options and then take advice on the ones that would best suit our circumstances.”

In terms of regaining access to the private debt market, Mr Noonan said: "We don't want to go back into the market and fall back out of it again, so we have been testing the market with treasury bills and with bonds of short-term maturities of four or five years.

"And later in the year, we’ll go for longer bonds. Our traditional is a nine-year, but we’ll go nine or 10 into the market. And we’ll proceed to full market funding then as we turn the year into 2014.”

On British prime minister David Cameron’s announcement yesterday that he intended to hold a referendum on his country’s membership of the EU, Mr Noonan said he believed it was in Ireland's interest for the UK to remain at the heart of Europe. Mr Cameron’s move, though well flagged, has caused unease among Britain’s allies who believe the country may slip into a dangerous and damaging limbo that could leave the country adrift or pushed out of the EU.

“We have a strategic agreement with the UK independent of the European Union on trade, and we’re their biggest export customer proportionately, so we hope they stay,” Mr Noonan said.

The Minister said he saw no real advantage for Ireland in terms of direct investment as a result of the UK’s uncertain position. “We really don't have to compete with anybody because the flow of foreign-direct investment into Ireland, principally from the United States, is now at an all-time high. And that is continuing into 2013. So we're not really competing."

On the euro zone financial crisis, Mr Noonan said: “The situation has stabilised very significantly and a lot of measures are either in place or about to be put in place that moves Europe toward a fiscal union.

"That stability is being reflected now in market sentiment. So I think the next job is not to be arrogant about it, to be prudent, to move forward on the stability base that has been put in place and Europe has to move now toward jobs and growth.”

Additional reporting: Bloomberg

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