Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Questions (172)

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

172. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Finance the amount of Irish Government bonds held by the ECB that will be maturing in the next 12 months; his efforts to get agreement from the ECB to return any profit from the purchase of these bonds to the Irish Government, as was the case when the ECB bought Greek Government bonds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9541/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The European Central Bank (ECB) published information on its holdings of Irish Government bonds under its Securities Market Programme (SMP) on Thursday, 21st February 2013. This showed that the ECB held €14.2 billion nominal value of Irish bonds at 31st December 2012 with an average remaining maturity of 4.6 years. The Annual Accounts of the ECB, which were also published on 21st February, show that the ECB received net interest income of €1.1 billion in 2012 from Greek, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish and Irish securities purchased under the Securities Market Programme, with €555 million of that arising from the SMP holdings of Greek government bonds. The precise information you seek in relation to the ECB holdings of Irish Government bonds maturing within the next twelve months is not available.

The package of measures for Greece agreed on November 26th 2012 by euro zone finance ministers is designed to help put the Greek economy on a path to sustainable growth and its domestic finances on a sound footing. This package was agreed in the context of the statement by Euro Area Heads of State or Government that the scale of the Greek problem is so large that it requires special attention.

One of the measures agreed in November, the Securities Market Programme (SMP) measure, will see Member States pass on, to Greece's segregated account, an amount equivalent to the income on the SMP portfolio accruing to their national central bank as from budget year 2013. Member States under a full financial assistance programme, such as Ireland, are not required to participate in this scheme for the period in which they receive financial assistance.

It is important to note that the concessions that have been agreed are specific to Greece and are accompanied by significant additional conditionality.

Ireland’s needs, as a country exiting a programme, are very different to those of Greece. We are, however, examining the Greek package to see if aspects of it offer any possible benefit to Ireland, particularly in the context of our programme exit.