Belfast Telegraph

Groundwork for bailout to be laid

Ireland will not be forced into a Budget dictated by the International Monetary Fund and Europe, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has insisted.

As formal negotiations on a multibillion bailout begin in Dublin, the minister moved to ease fears that foreign officials will hold the State's economic purse strings.

"I'm quite satisfied on the basis of the discussions to date that the Budget that will be presented to Dail Eireann on 7th December will be our own Budget, nobody else's Budget," Mr Lenihan told RTE Radio. "There has been no request for any change in that."

The IMF-EU rescue package is estimated to be up to 90 billion euro.

Under the bailout scheme, income tax will increase, but the country's controversially low 12.5% corporation tax, which the Government dubbed a red-line deal-breaker if forced into negotiations, will not be touched.

Mr Lenihan said there have been very clear assurances from European states that tax rates are a domestic issue.

The banks, whose lending has brought the State to the brink of bankruptcy, are also to be targeted in a potential asset sell-off. After seeing 23 billion euro of deposits leave Ireland this year, banks are to be reduced in size.

Meanwhile, the terms of a bailout deal for Ireland could be finalised by the end of the month, the European Commission has said.

The team of European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund number-crunchers in Dublin are continuing their review of the books in Dublin in close consultation with the Irish Government "for the next number of days" said a spokesman.

On the scale of the bailout the spokesman added: "There are no figures yet."

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