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That's all, folks: IMF praise Ireland, but lay out important challenges

The International Monetary Fund’s final review of Ireland’s bailout programme comes with several warnings, although says the we are seeing signs of recovery.

Head of the IMF Christine Lagarde with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, pictured at the G8 summit earlier this year.
Head of the IMF Christine Lagarde with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, pictured at the G8 summit earlier this year.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY Fund has published its twelfth and final review of Ireland’s bailout.

The report describes the programme as being “completed successfully”, but stresses a number of challenges still facing the economy.

Criticisms include a high level of public debt, an ‘unacceptably’ high level of unemployment, and banks being ‘weighed down by low-yielding mortgages’ and non-performing loans.

Writing in the report, IMF Chair Christine Lagarde praised Budget 2014, saying it put public debt on a declining trajectory.

However, her advice includes a focus on the mortgage arrears:

To help revive lending and sustain a recovery in demand, efforts to resolve mortgages in arrears should be intensified

She stressed the need to tackle unemployment and offer more “training for jobseekers, together with steps to promote credit for SMEs”.

‘Strengthened position’

The report praises Ireland’s efforts during the bailout programme, such as bank “support, restructuring and downsizing” and intense fiscal consolidation efforts, resulting in a ‘suggestion’ of a recovery seen this year:

Ireland has pulled back from an exceptionally deep banking crisis, significantly improved its fiscal position, and regained its access to the international financial markets

Lagarde said the programme’s success was down to “steadfast policy implementation” by the government, and we leave the programme with a range of positive indicators.

Read: What will life be like on Monday? The same, but families may benefit >

Noonan: ‘The Irish people are the real heroes’ >

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Nicky Ryan

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