Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The European Central Bank (ECB) pushed for a quick fire sale of Irish bank assets as Ireland entered the bail-out programme in late 2010, putting the protection of its own balance sheet ahead of the interest of Irish taxpayers, former IMF deputy director Ajai Chopra has said.   Mr Chopra, who was one of the senior IMF officials responsible for the design and monitoring of the bailout programme, wrote in a report for the European Parliament that the ECB’s advice on fiscal policy and structural reforms - which he said were outside its mandate - were wrong for Ireland. The report was requested by the parliament’s committee on economic and monetary affairs.  In the report, which analyses the ECB’s role in the design and implementation of the programme, Mr Chropra writes that several missteps were made which tainted the bank’s legitimacy in Ireland. Identifying the letters sent by then ECB president Jean Claude Trichet to then finance minister Brian Lenihan, pressing Ireland to enter the bailout or risk losing bank funding, Mr Chopra said their “imperious tone is unbecoming of the way in which EU institutions and nations should conduct business.”   He said that as the central bank and bank supervisor of each euro zone member, the ECB should not be a part of the troika where it sits across the table from country authorities and negotiates and monitors fiscal assistance.  “The ECB belongs on the country’s side of the table,” he said.  I think the last sentence is critical.

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