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Ireland Bailout Ends

"But we must continue with the same types of policies, because the deficit is too high," Noonan told a Dublin press conference. "It has to be brought down below 3 percent, and then it has to be brought into balance in subsequent years. The debt is too high and we have to have strategies to make the debt even more sustainable than it is now."

Ireland's national debt is projected to reach 206 billion euros this year, representing 124 percent of annual GDP. Ireland hopes to reduce that debt-to-GDP ratio, a key measure of a country's ability to pay its bills, in 2014 by growing the size of its economy 2 percent.

Such predictions are particularly difficult for Ireland because its growth prospects are dictated by demand from its two chief trading partners, the United States and Britain. Nearly 1,000 export-focused multinational companies based in Ireland account for around a fifth of the country's entire GDP. Those companies increasingly are hiring again, and Ireland's unemployment rate has declined from a two-decade high of 15.1 percent to today's rate of 12.5 percent.

Noonan said Ireland must pursue around 2.5 billion euros, or $3.4 billion, in cuts next year and more of the same in 2015. However, it might ease income-tax bands, particularly for single workers, who are taxed at a rate of 41 percent on income over 32,800, or $45,000.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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