Third review of Irish progress in adhering to terms of bailout


SENIOR OFFICIALS from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund will begin the latest review of the Government’s adherence to the €67 billion rescue loan tomorrow.

Teams from the EU European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund have been arriving in Dublin since the weekend ahead of the third review of Government compliance with the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding. The period under review covers the three months up to the end of June.

The Department of Finance and the Central Bank have separately told The Irish Times they are confidence that all 17 actions specified in the memo for the quarter have been completed, or all well advance to the satisfaction of the troika.

The actions for the second quarter of 2011 included elements of the programme for government including the jobs initiative, its funding mechanism and the reverse of the minimum wage.

Several of the specified actions were completed in the final week of the period, including the establishment of the Financial Advisory Council; the passage of the Central Bank and Credit Institutions (Resolutions) Bill through the Dáil, and a detailed action plan by the Central Bank to allow it improve its risk management.

Government sources said that yesterday’s exchequer returns for the first six months of 2011 which showed that overall figures are on target despite slightly lower revenues would be welcomed by the three international bodies.

The three heads of mission, Ajai Chopra of the IMF, Klaus Masuch of the ECB and Istvan Szekely from the EU Commission are expected to meet senior Government Ministers and officials before the scheduled end of the review on July 14th. However, unlike the last visit of the Troika in April, no press conference has yet been scheduled on the basis that the review is routine.

“The focus of the Troika seems to be much more on Greece at the moment. This visit will be much more low-key,” said a source.

“The last review happened just after the formation of the new Government and aspects of the memorandum were up for renegotiation.This review is more routine.”

It comes as the Government confirmed yesterday it had started engaging with the Troika about proposed changes to the sectoral wage agreements for workers in areas such as catering, security, cleaning and hospitality.

The Cabinet last week deferred a decision on proposals brought by Minister for Jobs and Enterprise Richard Bruton. Several of Mr Bruton’s planned changes, including the reduction of pay for working on Sunday or anti-social hours, have been criticised by Labour Party TDs.

Last week’s deferral was to allow the Government evaluate the outcome of a High Court case relating to the existing agreements. As the ruling was delayed for a week, Government sources said last night that the matter was unlikely to come before Cabinet at its weekly meeting today.

The revised bailout memorandum, agreed in April, commits the Government to present by the end of September a “time-bound comprehensive action plan” on its proposals to reform these sectoral agreements. Barriers to competition in the legal, medical, and pharmacy, professions must also be removed by this date.