This section pertains to the approval and amendment of the various Schedules. The Minister of State mentioned having attended two IMF meetings in recent years and I wish to ask him a question. Ireland is part of a section of the IMF that includes Canada and a number of Caribbean countries and in late August 2010, in the context of the ongoing financial and banking crisis in Ireland, I noticed that the Canadian Minister of Finance visited Ireland. This visit did not get much publicity but shortly thereafter, a distinguished Canadian public servant called Mr. Wright was put in charge of an inquiry or investigation into the workings of the Department of Finance. During the summer, the Government denied repeatedly that anyone was coming in from anywhere to assist Ireland. However, as the Canadians chair our particular section of the IMF, the visit of the Canadian Minister of Finance was interesting to put it mildly. He did not appear to have any great public schedule but yet was photographed and announced as being in the Department of Finance.
I wish to ask a question in the context of the changes proposed in this legislation, given that the Government has negotiated Ireland into an IMF deal and the Minister of State has spoken of having been present at the IMF in Washington at least twice. I, together with colleagues from the Labour Party, met the IMF team, including Mr. Chopra and others, twice. I believe the other political parties also did so at least once but as the Labour Party met them twice, the others also may have done so. In respect of the IMF, the changes in governance structure and the small additional percentage that will go to Ireland, the Minister of State should provide an explanation to Members. He appears to be the Minister of State who is partly in charge of Ireland's relationships with the IMF. Can he outline to Members what is the story at present? Everyone has been provided with a memorandum of understanding and I refer to the conditionality therein, particularly in the back pages. Ireland must report to the IMF on a weekly basis about how are the State's cash balances, inflows and outflows. We must report further information on a monthly basis and also have the conditionality that is set out, on a quarter by quarter basis, in the memorandum of understanding with the IMF and the European Union. It is commonly agreed that the IMF wrote the deal because it has experience of doing so in a different set of countries.
I acknowledge the Minister of State's primary responsibility is for the Office of Public Works but given that he is taking this Bill and has visited the IMF, can he indicate what exactly is the current relationship with the IMF? I know its representatives regularly visit Ireland and I understand that Mr. Mody is the person with whom most Members would be familiar in this regard. Is there a resident IMF observatory in Ireland? Was the Canadian visit at the end of the summer part of the IMF's preliminaries? If there are IMF people resident in Ireland at present, can the Minister of State indicate what is the composition and approach of its team? I ask because this Bill pertains to changes in governance.
As I noted earlier, I lived in Tanzania, where I encountered people who had much experience of being involved with the IMF team and where was a massive problem with governance. While listening to Mr. Chopra, I formed the impression that the IMF was, if anything, more flexible and more understanding. It did not defend these super-high interest rate and appeared to understand that growth was an essential way for Ireland to climb out of its difficulties.