Following tonight’s briefing between Fianna Fáil and representatives from the EU, ECB and IMF, party spokesperson on Public Expenditure Sean Fleming TD has welcomed the clarity offered by the Troika in a number of areas.
He commented, “We enjoyed a wide ranging and informative discussion, touching on all key areas relating to the programme of assistance and the country’s progress in meeting key targets. There were two areas of discussion which stood out.
“Firstly, the Troika confirmed the position that they have taken in all briefings to date on Ireland’s budget decisions – namely that the decisions the Government takes in order to meet broad fiscal targets are entirely the Government’s own. We sought this clarity once again in the context of the counterproductive decisions about education in December’s budget. Despite the Troika making it clear previously that our budget decisions are our own, some within Government have continued to claim that their hands are tied and that they can somehow evade responsibility for the choices they are making.
“Secondly, in a discussion on the sale of semi-state companies, we expressed concern at the level of sales that are being proposed. In response, the Troika made it absolutely clear that it has played no role and will play no role in setting targets for how much the country should raise through this process or what assets should be sold. This is once again an issue entirely at the discretion of the Government. This raises some very uncomfortable questions for the Labour Party in particular, which has acceded to at least €2 Billion in sales and suggested to supporters and the public that its hand was forced by the Troika.”
During the meeting, the Fianna Fáil delegation also pressed the need for banks to lend more to small businesses and suggested an extended timeframe for banks to meet new loan-to-deposit ratio targets.
Deputy Fleming concluded, “The key message from the Troika appears to be that the programme is on track, that Ireland is fundamentally different to those other countries in assistance programmes and that it is up to the Government to meet its fiscal targets as it sees fit. The time has clearly come for this Government to stop hiding behind the Troika and take responsibility for the choices it is making. “
The Fianna Fáil delegation comprised Sean Fleming TD, Barry Cowen TD, Senator Darragh O’Brien, Senator Thomas Byrne and Senator Averil Power.