Thursday, February 21 14:12:04
The Government is looking to issue a 10- year bond in the first half of this year, finance minister Michael Noonan said today.
Ireland has been portrayed as the poster child of the euro zone's crisis recovery programme and Noonan, who was meeting investors in London, said the country was looking to prove it is now ready to exit the support.
The ECB has said countries have to be within a support programme but also have a normal level of access to bond markets to qualify for its yet-to-be tested bond buying programme, dubbed Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) by the bank.
"I think the issuance will be 10 year and that will be one of the serious tests of market conditions and of our ability to get back into the market," Noonan told a Bloomberg event in London, adding it would be in the first half of the year.
"I would like that we would be back into the markets fully by 2014 ... and at present I think we are on track."
Ireland, which saw yields on short-term debt remain close to post-bailout lows in its latest T-bill auction on Thursday, raised a quarter of its long- term target for the year in January when it sold 2.5 billion euros of bonds that run to 2017.
Noonan said Ireland had received assurances that the euro zone and the International Monetary Fund were prepared to help it ease its way back into longer-term bond markets, and that it also planned to mobilise ECB support once the time was right.
"The OMT arrangement is an option, in due course, which we will probably apply for, but we have no plans to do so yet," Noonan said.
He said, however, that the Irish economy - expected to grow 1.5 percent this year - was not recovering as fast as the government would like and that there was still much to be done to stimulate activity in some sectors.
In such a climate, Ireland had no plans to risk its recovery with the introduction of a financial transaction tax like the one championed by Germany and considered by other EU states.
"We don't want financial services migrating from Dublin to London, so we are certainly not bringing in a financial transactions tax," he said.
Aside from domestic concerns, Noonan, whose country holds the EU Presidency, highlighted Cyprus as his top worry.
Cyprus needs 17 billion euros ($23 billion) from the euro zone over the next three years, with the likely speed and terms of the widely expected bailout hinging on Sunday's presidential election outcome.
"I am worried about the nature of the deal and how depositors will be treated," he said.
"Everybody knows that there is a strong Russian involvement in the banks in Cyprus and there are various views about how that should be dealt with," he added without going into more detail. Reuters