Ireland targets 're-entry' to bond markets
Updated: 2011-12-15 07:55
DUBLIN - Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan said he is targeting "full re-entry" to the bond market by mid-2013, as the country seeks to wean itself off an international bailout.
The country's treasury agency plans to step up issuance of short-term debt in the second half of 2012, and follow this up with "some longer-term issuance" later in the year, markets conditions allowing, Noonan said on Wednesday.
Ireland is pressing on with its deficit-reduction plans as European leaders try to resolve the eurozone debt crisis that's put the top credit ratings of Germany and France at risk. Noonan said there is an "urgency" needed as officials draft the framework of new fiscal rules agreed to at a summit in Brussels last week.
"The focus these days, though, is not really on any single country but Europe as a whole and the entire world," Noonan said. "Whatever each of us may think about the outcome and meaning of last week's Brussels summits, we all agree on the importance of the current crisis to us all, eurozone members or not."
Standard & Poor's placed the ratings of 15 euro nations, including AAA-rated France and Germany, on review for possible downgrade on Dec 5 pending an assessment of the European Union summit. Moody's Investors Service said the deal offered few new measures and doesn't diminish the risk of credit downgrades, while Fitch Ratings said it did little to ease pressure on governments.
Ireland is seeking to return to international bond markets after debts at its banks overwhelmed the country and it sought a bailout in 2010. Noonan reiterated that Ireland won't impose losses on sovereign debt holders or on holders of the country's senior bank debt. There is "no question whatsoever about our sovereign signature", he said.
"My key message to you is that we want to move out of the European Union-International Monetary Fund program and return to the markets at the earliest opportunity," Noonan said. "I intend that Ireland will give Europe its first success story as the recessionary cycle moves back in the right direction."
The finance minister said that while European leaders took "significant steps" at last week's EU meeting to alleviate investor concerns, they "urgently" need to put in place measures to restore confidence in the euro. Noonan said it was a "pity" that Britain didn't sign up to the deal at the summit.
Noonan said his budget for 2012, unveiled earlier this month, will ensure that the country meets the fiscal targets under its bailout. The budget aims for savings of 3.8 billion euros ($4.95 billion) to bring the country's budget deficit down to 8.6 percent of GDP next year.