PAC told him at the end of the ‘era of free money’

The Public Accounts Committee has heard a call to “bulletproof” the economy as the “era of free money” comes to an end with interest rates rising internationally.

John Hogan, secretary-general of the Department of Finance, said “what might have been described as the era of free, or more than free, money is coming to an end.”

“Very friendly environment […] on bond yields […] It’s coming to an end,” he added. “The direction of the march is very clear.”

He was responding to Fianna Fáil’s James O’Connor, who warned that the Irish economy is “extraordinarily exposed” and urged the department to take steps to “bulletproof” the economy as much as possible.

“We are probably living in a more shock-prone world,” said the department’s chief economist, John McCarthy.

Mr Hogan said the National Treasury Management Agency has carried out “a major redesign and lengthening of our debt” which “has put us in a good position”.

In “the short to medium term, I think we are generally well positioned to deal with the issues that are emerging now,” he said.

As the country faces “very uncertain economic times”, Mr O’Connor warned of a possible drop in corporate tax and collateral effects.

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