Oct 14, 2013

    Ireland poised to exit international bailout

    IRELAND will become the first euro-zone country to exit an international bailout in mid-December and may do so without a financing backstop from its European partners, the ruling party announced at a triumphant rally on Saturday.

    "Tonight I can confirm that Ireland is on track to exit the EU-IMF bailout on Dec 15. And we won't go back," Prime Minister Enda Kenny told his Fine Gael party's national conference.

    "It won't mean that our financial troubles are over. Yes, there are still fragile times ahead. There's still a long way to go.

    "But, at last, the era of the bailout will be no more. The economic emergency will be over."

    Mr Kenny admitted that the next national budget due to be presented tomorrow would be "tough", with another 2.5 billion euros (S$4.2 billion) in tax rises and spending cuts.

    But he said it would leave Ireland with a 4.8 per cent deficit next year, and said the government would publish a new economic plan for the medium term by the end of the year.

    Ireland enjoyed double-digit economic growth for a decade from the mid-1990s but was hammered by the 2008 global financial crisis.

    In late 2010, Dublin received a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund worth 85 billion euros, which forced it to introduce major austerity measures.

    But things are improving, with Ireland exiting recession in the second quarter with growth of 0.4 per cent, thanks to solid expansion.