LONDON – After three difficult years, Ireland is to emerge from its financial bailout program today, the first nation to do so out of the five eurozone countries that have had to seek rescue funds from international lenders.
Ireland will continue to face deep government cuts in order to close a yawning budget gap and pay off its debt. State salaries and social services have been scaled back significantly during the past several years in an austerity drive that has left few of the nation’s 4.5 million people unaffected.
Exiting the bailout program means Dublin will return to the commercial markets to borrow money. Interest rates on Irish bonds have fallen to sustainable levels, enough that the government has chosen to forgo a precautionary line of credit offered by international lenders to smooth the transition.