‘Follow-up funds hinge on terms’

Estonian finance minister Juergen Ligi says that the possibility of follow-up financing for Ireland after it exits the bailout this year would depend on aid conditions.

‘Follow-up funds hinge on terms’

A precautionary credit line “has been talked about”, even as Ireland has a funding cushion of about 15 months, Ligi, who took part in the eurozone finance ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg this week, told reporters yesterday.

Even so, follow-up financing for either Ireland or Spain, which is also due to exit an aid programme for its banks this year, wasn’t discussed at the latest meeting, he said.

“There is always the option, depending on the success of returning to market, to consider different measures to support countries, for example to keep a spare credit line in the case of Ireland,” Ligi said.

“Everything depends on the conditions attached, and what it would be needed for.”

The Government hasn’t decided finally on whether to seek a precautionary credit line from international authorities after exiting the bailout, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said yesterday. The country’s debt agency has almost €25bn in cash, meaning Ireland already has “a credible backstop” in place, he said.

Spain took €41.3bn in European aid to shore up its banking system as concern mounted last year that losses building up at former savings banks such as the Bankia group would harm government funds.

The Spanish banking programme has “generally been implemented and there’s also been progress with divesting bad assets,” Ligi said.

“Spain has had a rather Nordic stance in managing this crisis, according to my experience. They do have plenty of problems, but they have done a lot on restructuring their financial sector.”

During talks on Tuesday in Luxembourg, a rift emerged between proponents of enhanced backstops to cover any capital shortfalls that may be uncovered by the ECB-led bank assessments, including Germany, and those who maintain that existing options will suffice.

A solution to this would depend on the result of continuing coalition talks in Germany, Ligi said.

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