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The men from IMF arrive back in town

THE Chopper is back...and this time he arrived by surprise.

No sooner is Michael Noonan in the Finance post than Ajai Chopra calls unannounced.

Mr Noonan immediately cleared his diary and was today having talks with the head of the IMF mission to Ireland.

The Finance Minister, along with Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin, was trying to convince Mr Chopra to ease the burden of debt on Irish taxpayers.

Mr Chopra has already held meetings with officials from the Department of Finance.

The IMF has said it is prepared to discuss the broad framework of its financial aid package for Ireland with the new Government.

The fund contributed €22.5bn to the €85bn rescue package for Ireland at the end of November to help restructure the Irish banks.

However, Mr Noonan was expected to provide an explanation for the delay in recapitalising the banks.

He was also due to tell Mr Chopra why the Government wants to restore the old minimum wage.

Former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan last month delayed the injection of €10bn into the banks, saying his government did not have a mandate for the move.

And the new administration has further delayed the recapitalisation. It has decided to wait for an in-depth report on the state of the sector at the end of the month before supplying more funds.

In another meeting, Mr Noonan will discuss our banking problems with ECB chief Jurgen Stark. However, the pressure is intensifying on the Government to make concessions on the country's corporate tax rate in exchange for debt reduction.

New proposals on a common company tax base within the EU were expected today.

However, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has refused to consider any change to the corporation tax system.

At the meeting with Mr Chopra, Mr Noonan was to deal with budgetary and economic policy, while Mr Howlin was handling public spending cuts.

comurphy@herald.ie