Friday, March 08 08:13:38
International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde is to meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore in Dublin today.
The meeting takes place at Government Buildings and will be followed by a visit to the Central Bank and a lunch event hosted by Ms Lagarde to mark International Women's Day.
Ms Lagarde's visit comes after the European Central Bank called yesterday on the Government to step up its banking reforms, with bank governor Mario Draghi urging "further action".
Mr Draghi was speaking as Central Bank figures showed that while the pace of growth in mortgage arrears is slowing, about 23,500 mortgages have not been paid for two years or more.
John Moran, secretary general of the Department of Finance, told the Public Accounts Committee that the level of repossessions in the Republic was "uncharacteristically low" but that banks should soon be able to "move forward" on tackling problem home loans.
The Republic has a repossession rate of about 0.25 per cent of mortgages, compared with 3 per cent in the UK and up to 5 per cent in the US.
"It's surprising to us that there are so few repossessions in the system at the moment, given the extent of the crisis," Mr Moran said. "Ultimately, it is the other people in the country who are paying for these people to stay in their houses."
Speaking in Frankfurt after the ECB's governing council meeting, Mr Draghi praised Ireland for its economic progress but said the banking sector was a key concern. The Irish Times
The number of people falling behind on their mortgages seems to be slowing, according to the Central Bank.
The number of mortgages that have not been paid for more than three months rose to 9,426, or 11.9 per cent, of all home mortgages, said the bank. The comparable figure in for last September was 11.5 per cent. However the increase in the last three months was the smallest seen in more than three years.
The data also shows home loans that were less than 90 days in arrears fell by more than 1 per cent, giving rise to fresh optimism that the situation may be easing.
The number of people who are over two years behind on their mortgages is 23,500, according to the bank The number of restructured loans fell to 79,852 cases from 81,634. Those whose terms have been eased permanently rose 13 per cent to 23,432 during the quarter, the bank said.
"While, at first glance, the overall stock of restructured mortgages has fallen, we note that this masks a double-digit increase in the number of permanent restructures, which are a more sustainable way of addressing troubled loans," said Philip O'Sullivan, chief economist at NCB Stockbrokers in Dublin. The Irish Times
Moody's said this week's agreement to consider extending the maturities on some Irish bailout loans is "very significant." Together with last month's accord to stretch out the bailout of the former Anglo Irish, the latest agreement "makes a big difference," said Moody's analyst Kristin Lindow. "We consider this to be another credit positive event for Ireland."
European Union finance ministers agreed on Tuesday to recommend the "best possible option" for helping Ireland and Portugal regain full market access as they near the end of their bailout programmes. Moody's rates Ireland at Ba1 with a negative outlook. The Irish Independent
As IMF boss Christine Lagarde comes to Dublin, accountancy firm Grant Thornton reports that just over a fifth of senior business roles in Ireland are filled by women - even worse than the position four years ago.
On International Women's Day, further research from recruitment company Accreate has found that just 8pc of plc board members in Ireland are women.
Grant Thornton said that the number of women in senior management was unchanged last year, down slightly on the position in 2009. The Irish Independent