February 26, 2020 / 9:29 AM / a month ago

High Irish debt pile a low risk to economy: debt chief

LONDON (Reuters) - While Ireland’s stock of sovereign debt is still high, the risk it presents to the country’s economic future is now low due to a lower interest bill, better government finances and higher credit ratings, the head of the Irish debt agency said on Wednesday.

“I would caution that we are still not completely safe – still not at base camp – but if we look carefully we can see it in the distance,” National Treasury Management Agency chief executive Conor O’Kelly said in a speech.

O’Kelly also advised the government that there was merit to deciding on a pathway to reduce the state’s shareholdings in Irish banks and cautioned that waiting for share prices to get back to where the state sold them initially risked introducing “ownership bias”.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin, editing by Sarah Young

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