Ireland unveils budget running up to exit from bailout strictures

THE IRISH government announced its budget for the year ahead yesterday, holding back slightly on the austere finances of past years.

Finance minister Michael Noonan announced the plan for the year ahead, forecasting a budget deficit of 4.8 per cent, as the country’s protracted bailout programme rolls to an end.

Noonan said: “By the time the majority of the measures that I have announced today become law on the first of January next, I am confident that Ireland will have left the EU/IMF programme.”

The finance minister also claimed that before debt interest payments are taken into account, it would manage a small primary surplus.

Jonathan Loynes, chief European economist at Capital Economics said: “It might be premature to conclude that Ireland’s post bail-out prosperity is now assured. Most obviously, the fiscal projections continue to rely on pretty optimistic assumptions on the economy.”

Noonan confirmed that Ireland’s corporation tax rate would stay at 12.5 per cent, while a planned hike in hospitality VAT will be scrapped.