Speaking to the pain and anger of the Irish people at the toll the economic adjustment has taken on their daily lives, the IMF’s mission chief Ajai Chopra was clear during a press conference today in Dublin: the end goal is to protect the poor and most vulnerable people in society while restarting the economy.
“We would all agree the key objective is to get growth going again, to create jobs, and bring down unemployment and that will be the true mark of success,” said Chopra.
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Chopra pointed out if it wasn’t for contagion risks amid turmoil in European financial markets, Ireland would have significantly lower bond spreads.
The problems that Ireland faces are not just an Irish problem; they are a shared European problem.
“What is critical now is for Europe to dispel the uncertainty that has been created by the lack of progress, as perceived by markets, to decisively handle this crisis by implementing consistent and cooperative policies,” said Ajai Chopra, the IMF’s mission chief for Ireland.
The IMF along with the European Central Bank and the European Commission were in the emerald isle for the regular quarterly review of the government’s economic program.
The Irish plan is in good shape – the government has met all the targets, the program is well financed and on track, and the forecast is for positive growth this year.
Bond spreads in Ireland have widened but If it were not for contagion, we’d be seeing a very different result, Chopra said.
Ireland needs to be judged on its own merits and has five positive elements:
- signs of growth after three years of contraction in the economy
- banks are being recapitalized and there is a comprehensive plan to reduce the size of the banking sector and focus on core business
- the fiscal program is credible and on track
- competitiveness is improving
- the government has the political will and determination to implement the program