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Niall Carson/PA Wire

IMF's Chopra to meet ministers over bailout progress

Ajai Chopra will hold meetings with Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin to discuss Ireland’s progress in reforming itself.

THE HEAD of the IMF’s mission to Ireland, Ajai Chopra, is in Dublin today to hold face-to-face meetings with two leading members of the new cabinet on how well Ireland is meeting its obligations under the bailout.

Chopra – who led the IMF delegation to Ireland last November when the €67.5bn funding package was agreed – will meet the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, as well as the new minister for public sector reform Brendan Howlin, whose department is being spun off from Noonan’s.

It is thought that the meetings will centre around Ireland’s progress in keeping up with the political reform moves it signed up to in exchange for the funding package.

Among those pledges, the Irish Independent notes, were promises to ensure the recapitalisation of the banking sector and to reduce the minimum wage – both of which may be planned for reversal by the new government.

Former minister Brian Lenihan was due to proceed with a €10bn recapitalisation last month – but delayed it until after the election, so that a changed cabinet would have the chance to block such a move.

An IMF spokesman told the Irish Daily Mail that the meeting with Chopra had been requested by the new cabinet itself – perhaps indicating that the new administration is taking a proactive stance in trying to amend the terms of the deal.

Last month, RTÉ reported that the IMF was willing to combine the first and second ‘scheduled reviews’ of the bailout deal until shortly after the election.

The meetings with the IMF will come as Noonan ups the pressure on the European Union – the other major funding partner in the bailout deal – to seek an amendment to the terms, in particular looking for a reduction on the interest rate being asked of Ireland.

In return, however, some countries – in particular France, Germany and Austria – insist Ireland must increase its corporation tax rate of 12.5 per cent.

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