Michael Noonan

Ireland has met or 'overacheived' on its EU-IMF deficit targets, said Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, according to the Irish Times.

In his quarterly letter to the EU-IMF on meeting the terms of the bailout, the finance minister said the government was “on track to observe, and indeed overachieve” the target for reducing the budget deficit in 2011.

The letter was published yesterday by the Department of Finance.

A new report published by the Central Bank of Ireland on the economy and figures on the health of the banking system, largely corroborated Mr Noonan’s views on the public finances, saying that targets in mid-year were “broadly in line with expectations.”

In its quarterly bulletin, published Friday, the bank forecasted that the economy – as measured by gross national product – will shrink slightly this year. As measured by the wider indicator of gross domestic product, which includes multinational companies’ profits, the economy is expected to grow at 0.8 per cent this year, which is fractionally lower than forecast three months ago.

According to the Central Bank, 31,000 fewer people will be employed in 2011 than in 2010. In 2007, there were 300,000 more people at work than there are now.

However, the bank expects stronger economic growth next year, and a net 4,000 increase in the number of jobs is expected in 2012.