Portugal will follow Ireland in repaying early its bailout loans from the International Monetary Fund after successfully selling long-dated bonds last week, the country's finance minister said today. 

But Lisbon must secure authorisation from European partners which also contributed to the €78 billion euro bailout before repayments can begin. 

The IMF provided one-third of loans made under the rescue programme which Portugal accepted in 2011 and exited last year. 

"We have at this moment accumulated very significant reserves that allow us to face with tranquillity possible periods of volatility that may occur in the financial markets," Finance Minister Maria Luis Albuquerque told a parliamentary committee.

"With the normalisation of market access, the government has the conditions and will start the necessary proceedings for the early repayment of the sums owed to the IMF. We will start this process following the precedent opened by Ireland," the Minister added. 

Portugal sold €5.5 billion of bonds on January 13, including €2 billion of 30-year debt, its first sale at such a long maturity since 2006. Foreign investors snapped up more than 90% of the bond.

 It paid just 2.92% to sell 10-year bond - less than the 3.4% average cost of servicing the IMF part of the bailout loans, which have an average maturity of seven years. 

The European Union has previously agreed to lower the rates charged Ireland and Portugal and extend their loan maturities. 

Portuguese debt yields have fallen to record lows in the past few days, along with those of euro zone peers, on expectations the European Central Bank will announce a big bond-buying stimulus programme at its meeting tomorrow. 

Yields also fell at a Treasury bill auction today which raised more than Lisbon had initially planned.