Dublin, Jan 5 (AFP/APP): Ireland expects a EUR19 billion deficit for 2020 after an “unprecedented” slew of spending to offset the effects of the coronavirus crisis, the finance ministry said Tuesday.
Finance minister Paschal Donohoe said the Republic had expected to deliver a surplus of around EUR2.5 billion ($3.1 billion) before the coronavirus pandemic upended the economy in the spring of 2020.
But soaring government spending saw an exchequer deficit of EUR12.3 billion registered for the year as tax receipts generally shrank during numerous coronavirus lockdowns.
The slide into a 2020 “estimated deficit” of EUR19 billion to the general state coffers — around 5.5 per cent of GDP –demonstrates “the government’s response is unprecedented in our country’s history,” Donohoe said in a statement.
“The government will continue to use the resources of the state to protect the most vulnerable, support businesses and sustain incomes until our country emerges from this pandemic.” In October Ireland unveiled its “largest-ever” budget package for 2021.
Dublin pledged additional spending of over EUR17.75 billion as the nation braced for the twin economic fallout of Brexit and the ongoing pandemic. Minister for public expenditure Michael McGrath said the government had committed roughly EUR9 billion to unemployment and employer wage subsidy payments throughout 2020.
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